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.

But the club has now put all staff on players on furlough leave with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping 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.

One member of the squad who was particularly looking forward to the start of Championship cricket was ex-South Africa fast bowler Duanne Olivier.

He finished 2019 - his first full year in county cricket - as Yorkshire’s leading four-day wicket-taker with 43 scalps, although admits he was hoping for better having retired from international cricket to take up a three-year Kolpak contract.

It was a decision which attracted much attention last February, especially as he was hot property in South Africa.

Also speaking before furlough, Olivier said: “Last season wasn’t my best, according to my standards. But I learnt a lot.

“It was only the last month or two where I got back to feeling myself - bowling better, anyway. But I know where I went wrong. At the end of the day, it’s all about adapting to new surroundings and team-mates, and maybe I was a little bit over eager to impress.

“It was a really tough year, but in a way it was a good year because I learnt a lot about myself.

“I’ve been working more on the mental side of the game this winter. The social media side of things was quite interesting to deal with after I made the decision, and I got quite a bit of reaction.

“I still get the odd comment here and there, but I’m better at dealing with it now. I’m not going to worry as much about what people think.

“It was a massive decision, and everybody has an opinion. I respect that. But maybe I let what people said get to me more than I should have. We are all human at the end of the day. My pure focus is on cricket now.

“I have nothing to prove to anyone and nothing to lose. But I have so much to gain.”