Derbyshire have cancelled the final two matches of their Vitality Blast campaign due to a lack of available players, as the ongoing surge of coronavirus threatens to destabilise county cricket.

Derbyshire’s most recent LV= Insurance County Championship match against Essex had already been abandoned after one day’s play after a positive case led to the entire squad being identified as close contacts.

With half-a-dozen injuries to cope with, they have not been able to summon a replacement XI – as Kent did when faced with similar circumstances ahead of their game with Sussex over the weekend.

As such, scheduled fixtures against Northamptonshire and Yorkshire have been scrubbed from the calendar and the competition’s North Group league table will be settled on points average.

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With the England one-day team having also been forced into a drastic change ahead of the Royal London Series against Pakistan – with an emergency squad called up at short notice following an outbreak in the camp – it appears inevitable that more such instances will occur as teams continue to fulfil engagements up and down the country.

And with dozens of players due to depart for The Hundred, which launches next week, the strain on the parallel Royal London Cup could become overwhelming.

While some domestic teams have barely lost any senior squad members to the new franchise tournament, others including Surrey have seen 10 or more players sign up.

There are mechanisms in place for Hundred franchises to dip further into the county well should they sustain injuries or Covid withdrawals, a move that would only serve to further chip away at the remaining playing staffs.

A statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board read: “ECB has determined that Derbyshire CCC is unable to field a team of a strength appropriate to maintain the integrity of the two matches and of the competition as a whole.

“Derbyshire are adhering to Covid-19 protocols and managing a number of injuries. In addition to six injured players, 14 members of Derbyshire’s squad are self-isolating after they were deemed as close contacts of an unnamed team-mate, who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this week.”

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