Devon League clubs have been urged not to start tearing up contracts signed and sealed with overseas players just yet.

The warning comes from the ECB as clubs start to consider how they can reduce overheads while no cricket is being played due to the coronavirus suspension.

Clubs at all levels in the Tolchards Devon Cricket League sign overseas players of all abilities every summer to give their teams a boost.

Many are just good amateur cricketers from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, who take four or five months off work to play cricket in a different environment.

Some are UK passport holders through one or both parents who are exempted from the full force of overseas player regulations and restrictions.

At the top level of Tolchards Devon League cricket are First Class professionals, labelled as Tier Five players, recruited through agents, who come to the UK as paid players.

Brian Charl (Bovey Tracey), Faisal Riaz (Plymouth) and Anthony Alleyne (Paignton) all played as Tier Five professional players in last season’s Premier Division. They are the type players the ECB is warning clubs to be careful about.

The first piece of advice from the ECB concerning overseas players is short and to the point and targets league officials.

“Leagues should not be recommending blanket bans,” says the ECB statement.

Advice on how to deal with contracted players, the advice is more detailed.

“The Government advises UK citizens against non-essential travel anywhere in the world until further notice.

“For any club with questions or concerns about currently contracted overseas players, they should speak to the (players’) agent, their legal representative and their committee before deciding on the next course of action.”

Mark Ansell, the North Devon CC chairman, said the advice from ECB won’t make any difference to his club’s overseas player plans.

North Devon lined-up South African seamer Malcolm Cloete as their overseas player a while ago and he will be coming over if there is any cricket to be played.

“We don’t do contracts – I don’t believe in them – and we don’t bring in Tier Five professionals,” said Ansell.

“We do not pay for overseas players and Malcolm is coming over as an amateur just as soon as there is some cricket to play and the season gets going.”