Coronavirus: Putting England men's matches first can help safeguard future of women's team - Connor
- The England and Wales Cricket Board is facing up to huge losses, so men's internationals will have to come before women's games this year.
Money-spinning matches featuring the England men's team must take priority over women's internationals this year.
That was the message on Wednesday from Clare Connor, director of women's cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), saying it was "a hit we might have to take".
Former England all-rounder Connor is realistic about the possibility of the women's team being unable to play a full programme of internationals, given the coronavirus pandemic could mean available and safe venues for cricket are limited.
And with men's broadcast deals so lucrative, particularly at a time when behind-closed-doors games are emerging as a best-case scenario, it is set to be the England teams skippered by Joe Root and Eoin Morgan that are prioritised by the ECB.
ECB chief executive Tom Harrison this week told a UK government Digital, Culture, Media and Sport panel the organisation risked losing up to £380million this year due to the COVID-19 effect.
Connor, quoted widely by UK media on Wednesday, said: "If the international women's schedule can't be fulfilled in full but a large amount of the international men's programme can this summer, which is going to reduce that £380million hole, we have to be realistic about that.
"In order for the whole game to survive, the financial necessity rests upon many of those international men's matches being fulfilled."
She added: "If we have to play less international women's cricket this summer to safeguard the longer-term future and investment and building the infrastructure for a more stable and sustainable women's game, then that is probably a hit we might have to take."
Connor stressed she would be "devastated" if England cannot play any international women's cricket during the coming months.
A June-July series against India must be reorganised because cricket in England has been suspended until July 1 at the earliest, while South Africa's women are due to tour in September.
Connor said: "But we're only going to have a few venues, if any, in operation and if that ends up being two bio-secure environments or three, there's only a certain number of days to try to cram everything into."