England vs West Indies: New Rules In Play As Test Cricket Resumes Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Written by Vishwas Gupta

As England and the West Indies begin the first Test of the series at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Wednesday, it will mark the resumption of international cricket after a 117-day hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic. The two sides, led by Ben Stokes and Jason Holder, will be the first to follow a new set of rules, put in place to make sure the game is played with the safety of the players, officials and other staff as the first priority.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) in June approved the new rules recommended by the Anil Kumble-led ICC Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) aimed at mitigating the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus and protect the safety of players and match officials.

The first major change had already taken place much before the match, with the West Indies team arriving in England in early June and then maintaining quarantine for three weeks before some intra-squad friendlies.

When the two teams will take to the field on Wednesday, they will have to follow what for now may be the new normal.

Here are the new rules in place for the resumption of Test cricket:

COVID-19 Replacements

A year after the introduction of concussion substitutes in Test cricket, the coronavirus crisis has enforced the introduction of the COVID-19 substitution rules. According to the rule, teams will be allowed to substitute players displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during a Test match. Like concussion substitutes, the Match Referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.

The saliva ban

Players will now not be allowed to use saliva to shine the ball. If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning.

A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a 5-run penalty to the batting side. Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences.

Non-neutral umpires

The earlier rule that required match officials to be neutral has been temporarily removed to owing to the logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC will be able to appoint locally based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.

Additional DRS reviews

Due to the fact that matches may now be officiated by less experienced umpires, teams will be permitted three unsuccessful DRS reviews per innings as opposed to the two permitted earlier.

Additional logo

A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. This takes the number of permitted logos on Test jerseys to four.

About the author

Vishwas Gupta