ECB paves way for cricket’s restart, England players to begin training from next week

Written by Vishwas Gupta

The England Cricket Board (ECB) is set to pay the way for international cricket’s return from the Coronavirus pandemic. While several bilateral cricketing series, as well as franchise-based tournaments, have been suspended in the wake of COVID-19, the ECB’s directive to restart players’ training is the first one in the sport amid the virus crisis.

The initial phase of the training restart will see the bowlers starting one-on-one sessions with coaches from the next week while the batsmen will gradually enter the training field in two weeks.

A total of 30 centrally contracted players will be trained at 11 different venues, though the names of the players are yet to be confirmed. On Wednesday, the UK government had issued guidelines for sporting athletes’ return to the training fields while also handing out the guidelines which are to be followed to ensure the risk of the spread of Coronavirus is minimized.

England director of cricket Ashley Giles called these ‘staggered steps’ to resume the gentleman’s game in the country although it was also earlier clarified that there will be no tournament in the country till July 01.

“This first phase should be a safer environment than going about daily life,” said Giles.

“I’m not making light of this, but there are risks every time you go outside the house. We need to mitigate as many of the risks around the spreading of this virus as we possibly can.”

Here’s a look at the protocol that the ECB will be the following:

  • Each individual will need to observe strict social-distancing
  • Players and support staff will arrive at the ground in training kit ready to practice
  • Players and support staff will have their temperatures taken before they are allowed to enter the training field.
  • Medical staff will need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat injuries to players in the training field. The PPE will be sourced and funded by the ECB
  • Dressing rooms and other venue facilities will remain closed

England, who were to play West Indies in June, had decided to postpone the series amid the catastrophe but are looking to host the men from the Caribbean in July, with the tentative start of the bilateral series being July 08.

On the initial talks of the resumption of the series, Cricket West Indies chief executive Johnny Grave admitted that some West Indies players would be “very nervous” about travelling to all the way to England.

“We are all nervous, aren’t we?” Giles said. “I went shopping last week and it’s a really weird feeling when you go out. You are almost threatened by anyone who comes near you. That will change over time.

“It can be quite scary but we are doing everything we possibly can to answer all of the West Indies’ questions.”

England women’s players, meanwhile, are expected to return to training later this month.

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Vishwas Gupta