Limited number of fans to be allowed in to see Northants' clash with Warwickshire at Edgbaston
Spectators are to be allowed into this weekend's Bob Willis Trophy clash between Warwickshire and Northants at Edgbaston.
Up to 2,500 fans will be allowed in to the first two days of action at Edgbaston and also the Kia Oval as the phased return of live sporting crowds continues.
Both grounds were selected to host pilot events this week, with 1,000 spectators taking in Surrey's friendly against Middlesex on Sunday and the same number due at Warwickshire's match against Worcestershire on Tuesday.
Now the Government's guidelines will be tested with even more people in attendance, with the capacity lifted by more than double on August 1 and 2, when Surrey and Middlesex meet again at the Kia Oval, and the Bears take on the County in the new first-class competition.
As it stands, it is only Warwickshire members who are going to be allowed admission, but Northants are currently working on the possibility of a limited number of visiting season ticket holders also being admitted.
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Warwickshire chief executive Craig Flindall said: “We’re delighted that Warwickshire CCC and Edgbaston are again at the forefront of innovation and that we can play a part in securing the safe return of spectators to sporting events across the country.
"Our thanks go to Birmingham City Council, the England & Wales Cricket Board and the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport for the support in taking forward this pilot programme at Edgbaston.
“It’s fantastic for us to have the opportunity to build on tomorrow’s spectator pilot match day by extending it to the opening two days of the county season, which allows Warwickshire members to enjoy a weekend of watching cricket at Edgbaston.
“In partnership with Birmingham City Council and our wider city stakeholders, we have a proven track record and have vast experience of delivering some of the biggest sporting events that have taken place in Birmingham in recent years.
"Whilst we are operating at a reduced capacity, these three match dates are of equal importance those previous events.”
Neil Snowball, managing director of county cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said: "We're all excited about the start of the county cricket season, and of course we all miss not being able to go and watch as we normally would.
"These two pilots are an important step in testing the Government guidance and ensuring we can safely open our grounds again."
No fans have been allowed in to England's bio-secure Test series against the West Indies and that looks likely to be the case for the remainder of the international summer, which takes in tours from Ireland, Pakistan and Australia.