Essex and Warwickshire to switch Championship fixtures following Worcester flood

The County Ground, Chelmsford will now stage the Essex-Warwickshire game, starting on 13 July
The County Ground, Chelmsford will now stage the Essex-Warwickshire game, starting on 13 July

Essex and Warwickshire are to switch County Championship fixtures following the Bears' abandonment of plans to play a 'home game' at flood-hit Worcester.

Warwickshire were scheduled to host the Essex game at New Road, starting on 13 July, as Edgbaston is unavailable because of Cricket World Cup use.

But the England & Wales Cricket Board have agreed a home and away game swap.

Warwickshire will now go to Chelmsford on 13 July, with the return at Edgbaston on 10 September.

Plans for Warwickshire to switch a home game to Worcester were first announced in January, causing ill feeling among Bears members who would have preferred one of their own out grounds to be used, such as Stratford.

But the weather has now intervened, following an astonishing month of rain in June - with no immediate sign of it stopping for long enough to allow the Worcestershire's New Road ground to dry out properly.

Worcestershire were forced to seek refuge at Kidderminster again after New Road suffered its first mid-summer flood since 2007
Worcestershire were forced to seek refuge at Kidderminster again after New Road suffered its first mid-summer flood since 2007

Worcestershire have already moved one Championship game to their second home at Chester Road, Kidderminster.

They are also expected to confirm that their own Championship home game with Derbyshire, scheduled to start on 7 July, will be moved.

The one-day tour game with Australia A, on Tuesday 25 June, was also moved to Kidderminster, although that was rained off without a ball being bowled.

Warwickshire were already in the middle of a stretch of five Championship games away from Edgbaston, which began at York last week, and also takes in the current game with Surrey at The Oval, Kent at Canterbury next week (30 June-3 July) and Hampshire (6-9 July).

The switching of the Essex game now means it is officially five straight away fixtures for the Bears, while also allowing them to play three of their final four Championship games at home (Somerset, 18-21 August, Essex and Yorkshire, 23-26 September).

The water had left the outfield by Monday, but it generally takes three weeks to clean up and depollute after any flood at New Road
The water had left the outfield by Monday, but it generally takes three weeks to clean up and depollute after any flood at New Road

Essex chief executive Derek Bowden said: "Having discussed the options with the ECB, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, the sensible decision is to swap the fixtures.

"We hope this hasn't caused an inconvenience to our members and supporters who were planning on making the trip to Worcester, but this was the only viable solution."

Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball said: "As soon as we saw the images of the recent flooding we started to look at alternative options.

"I have been in regular contact with (Worcestershire chief executive) Matt Rawnsley over the last 10 days, offering our support but also talking through the likelihood of continuing with the fixture in Worcester and ultimately this proved impossible despite the best efforts of everyone concerned."

ECB head of cricket operations (first class) Alan Fordham said: "There are extreme circumstances behind this switch of venue and the combination of Edgbaston hosting ICC Men's Cricket World Cup matches and the unfortunate situation at Worcester has forced us to review all options.

"This outcome is the only practical solution for these two counties as well as their Members and supporters.

"Normally we wouldn't ask Warwickshire to host a Championship match so close to the Vitality Blast Finals Day on 21 September as we always aim to provide as much preparation time as possible but we have been assured that this will not have an adverse impact on their ability to host this prestigious event."