ESSEX Cricket Club chief executive Derek Bowden says there is potential for the Colchester Cricket Festival to make a return.

The popular Castle Park event was suspended in 2016 and there will once again be no First Class or limited-overs cricket staged at the venue next year, after the fixtures for next season were announced last week.

However, the brand new 100-ball format will be introduced in 2020 and Bowden has revealed that could then create an opportunity for the much-loved festival to make a comeback, providing it works financially.

Bowden told the Daily Gazette: “I think there’s scope for it to return.

“With the scheduling involving the four-day and 50-over games, it’s been tricky.

“To make it work financially, we would need to have both there but that wasn’t possible in 2019, with the schedule the way that it is.

“But in 2020, there is potential – never say never.

“With the new 100-ball format starting in 2020, it’ll run parallel with the 50-over game and that might give us the opportunity to play one or two games in outgrounds.

“Playing around the county and surrounding regions may make sense.

“There’s a number of counties playing at outgrounds with the World Cup next year and if we can make it work, we will.

“We genuinely love the Colchester Cricket Festival and if we can make it wash its face, we’ll make it happen.

“It’s certainly something to look at when it’s fixture time, in October and November of next year so it’s a case of watch this space.”

Essex start their County Championship campaign at Hampshire on April 5 and are on the road again the following week when they travel to The Kia Oval to face reigning champions Surrey, on April 11.

They must wait until May 14 until they host their first home game in the four-day format, with the schedule influenced by the fact that some County Championship grounds will be hosting World Cup cricket next summer.

“It’s been a very difficult year of scheduling,” added Bowden, who has been Essex’s chief executive since taking over from David East in the role in February, 2013.

“I have a degree of sympathy for the ECB on this, having worked closely with them over the last few weeks.

“The World Cup next year has really impacted on the scheduling with the venues being used and it’s not been easy for them.”