|LV= County Championship Group One, Incora County Ground, Derby (day two):|
|Derbyshire 146: Du Plooy 43; Snater 3-45, Neesham 2-15|
|Essex 86-3: Cook 30, Browne 28*; Hudson-Prentice 2-24|
Derbyshire’s County Championship Group One game against Essex at Derby has been abandoned because of a positive Covid-19 test in the home squad.
The decision was taken before the second day’s play with Essex set to resume their first innings on 86-3.
Other members of the Derbyshire squad have been identified as close contacts and the players are now self-isolating.
Confirmation about the points to be awarded from the game will be announced in due course.
An England and Wales Cricket Board statement said: “Due to the isolation protocols and impact on Derbyshire’s available playing squad the umpires have abandoned the match.
“The ECB has worked closely with Public Health England and both Derbyshire and Essex County Cricket Clubs with the health and safety of players, staff and officials the first priority.”
Essex had already earned three bowling points on the opening day and under normal circumstances, both teams would receive eight points for a draw.
But the visitors needed a victory to have a realistic chance of retaining the Championship title they won in 2019 and Bob Willis Trophy they lifted last summer.
‘Disappointing way’ to end Essex’s title defence
Essex assistant coach Andre Nel, who is stepping in as interim head coach while Anthony McGrath is with the England team, said they first heard rumours of a positive Derbyshire test at 07:30 BST on Monday.
“We’re all pretty disappointed. We were ready to go and had got ourselves into a good position to get the maximum points we needed,” Nel told BBC Essex.
“It’s a disappointing way to end our defence of the county and Bob Willis titles. We knew it was a slim chance, but it’s disappointing.
“But we also know there are times where we could’ve played better. We just need to let this sink in and come back better.”
Derbyshire wait to see if case impacts forthcoming games
Derbyshire have been hit by a number of injuries recently and they only had a handful of fit players available as replacements if the game was to continue.
A club statement said that following a lateral flow test on Sunday evening “one unnamed member of the playing staff” had tested positive.
The statement continued: “The player has immediately begun self-isolating while awaiting the result of a PCR test.
“As the playing squad involved in the LV= County Championship fixture against Essex at The Incora County Ground, as well as the Vitality Blast squad which travelled to Durham on Friday, could likely be considered close contacts, they too will immediately self-isolate pending the PCR test result.”
Derbyshire’s next scheduled fixture is an away T20 Blast game against Northants Steelbacks on Friday, to be followed by a home match against Yorkshire Vikings on Sunday, 18 July.
The club said they will make further announcements about forthcoming games “pending additional guidance”.
Chief executive Ryan Duckett added: “This isolated incident highlights the fact that sport is not exempt from the pandemic, and I’d like to thank the club’s medical and venue staff, as well as Public Health Derby and the ECB for their immediate response in safely handling the matter.
“It is of course a great disappointment to see the abandonment of a fixture, but the safety of all players, staff and supporters must always come first and the club is grateful for the understanding of supporters.”
On Sunday, Kent had to pick an entirely new team, including four debutants, for their Championship match against Sussex after a positive Covid test forced their first XI into isolation.
And last summer, Gloucestershire’s home Bob Willis Trophy game against Northamptonshire had to be abandoned after the opening session on day one because of a Covid case among the visitors’ squad.