Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale says it has been “virtually impossible” to prepare for what it is hoped will at least be a curtailed programme of county cricket later this summer.

Yorkshire had been scheduled to open their season this Sunday against newly-promoted Gloucestershire in the opening round of the Specsavers County Championship at Emerald Headingley.

Dawid Malan was due to debut for the White Rose, while Gloucestershire coach Richard Dawson and players Cheteshwar Pujara and Josh Shaw were all set to face their former county.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out the first seven rounds of the Championship programme, in which time Yorkshire were due to play six games, and there will be no cricket until at least May 28. That date could yet be pushed back further.

“We haven’t been able to plan because you don’t know the end game,” said Gale, who was confident of silverware in both red and white-ball cricket.

“If they said: ‘Right, you’re going to play half the Championship season and you’ll start on this date’, you can get an idea of what you need to do to meet that date. But until we know what’s going to happen and who you are going to play, it’s virtually impossible.

“All that can be done is for the lads to keep themselves physically fit.”

After a three-year transitional period at Headingley, the county’s hierarchy were confident of a return to success after back-to-back Championship titles in 2014 and 2015 and a near miss in 2016.

They brought in England batsman Malan from Middlesex and had three overseas players in Keshav Maharaj, Ravi Ashwin and Nicholas Pooran across Championship and T20 cricket.

“When you look out of the window and see the nice weather we’ve had, it’s particularly frustrating because you wonder what might have been,” said Gale.

“We had prepared really well, added the signings we wanted and were confident of having a good season this year.

“Fingers crossed we can at least get some cricket in later on.”

Gale, who has signed up alongside his wife, Kate, to be an NHS Responder, was speaking prior to Yorkshire’s decision to furlough their entire playing squad and the majority of their coaching staff earlier this week. Director of cricket Martyn Moxon and cricket operations manager Cecilia Allen are the only cricket staff who continue to work.

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