Cricket obsessives are usually never far away from their next fix, such is the proliferation of top-level matches across a growing range of formats.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has ripped the exhausting international calendar front to back, replacing the usual treadmill of fixtures with little more than a blank hole.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what has been affected and what might come next.
We are gutted to return home early from Sri Lanka but this is so much more important than cricket.— England Cricket (@englandcricket) March 16, 2020
Sorry to disappoint any fans who were coming out to watch us. Look after yourselves and those around you â¤ï¸ pic.twitter.com/o75g1nkRyB
England are effectively on hiatus, having beaten a hasty retreat from Sri Lanka midway through a tour match in Colombo. That two-match series is due to be re-arranged, potentially for January, but no decisions have been made yet. The wider game has been put on hold until at least May 28, pushing back the start of the Specsavers County Championship and sweeping seven rounds of fixtures with it. Similar decisions have been taken globally, with the lucrative Indian Premier League pushed back to an optimistic start date of April 15. Ad-hoc decisions were taken elsewhere, with India and South Africa intending to play two impacted ODIs in the future but Australia and New Zealand agreeing to scrub two from the books. Ireland have had to postpone two important series, away in Zimbabwe and home to Bangladesh.
The ECB have made it clear that they will prioritise its most lucrative forms of cricket when the green light finally comes. That means all England internationals leap to the front of the queue, starting with the first Test of the summer against the West Indies from June 4. After that the popular Vitality Blast Twenty20 tournament and the inaugural season of The Hundred will be pushed. To the likely disappointment of purists and county members, the championship is almost certain to be reduced and could yet be cancelled entirely for a year.
Modelling has been undertaken to take under consideration resumption of cricket in June, July and August, as well as the doomsday scenario of a fully fallow campaign. Each version implies different volumes of cricket, but changing the span and design of competitions appears highly probable in any circumstance.
The ECB Board has agreed that no professional cricket will be played in England and Wales before 28 MayÂ due to the COVID-19 pandemic.— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) March 20, 2020
The ECB is ultimately responsible, via its board, but key stakeholders including all 18 first-class counties, the MCC, broadcasters and the Professional Cricketers’ Association are involved in discussions.
It would be very strange to play without the fans but if these things have to happen so be it.England captain Joe Root
Absolutely. English attendances are the envy of the cricketing world and Test captain Joe Root has already spoken about the wrench he would feel if fans were kept away, but needs must. If games can safely take place in a sterile environment, they would surely do so. With so much sport canned in the coming months, the sight of elite athletes competing would be a welcome sight in television and radio schedules and help ease the coming fixture crush.
The competition is still scheduled to take place, comprising seven host cities in Australia. The ICC have not yet raised any doubts about it taking place on time and as planned, with tickets still on sale. Events beyond sporting control will dictate whether it ultimately goes ahead.