More than two months after all forms of cricket was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Thursday confirmed that the male cricketers will return to individual outdoor skill-based training from next week by adhering to “strict” protocols.
The board said that it will utilise all the venues across the country to make sure the cricketers and the staff maintain the social distancing measures as set by the United Kingdom Government’s elite sport return to training guidance.
“The ECB’s plan has been designed in line with the Government’s guidance, and we will continue to ensure we comply with their regulations as it develops,” the board said in an official statement.
“From Wednesday, the ECB’s Men’s Elite Performance Programme will implement an individualised training programme for a number of bowlers, who are centrally contracted and invited through the county system,” it added.
It has been further stated that after a period of two weeks when the bowlers reach their desired loading efforts, dedicated batsmen and wicketkeepers will begin their individual training sessions. They have been directed to adhere to the following protocols:
“Players will train individually on a staggered basis with a coach, physio and, where possible, a strength and conditioning coach in attendance.”
“Each individual will observe strict social-distancing, hygiene and temperature testing protocols.”
“The ECB, working with counties, will request a number of county coaches to assist with one-to-one coaching. The ECB will fund this.”
“Players and support staff to arrive in training kit ready to practice.”
“Players and support staff temperatures will be taken before they will be allowed to train.”
“The physio will have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to treat injuries. The PPE will be sourced and funded by the ECB.”
“Dressing rooms and other venue facilities will be closed.”
Furthermore, the next two phases of the training will be imposed by the Government after consulting with the ECB’s medical and will be announced in due course of time.
“These are the first steps for players return to training ahead of international cricket potentially resuming later this summer,” Ashley Giles, Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket said.
“The safety of players, staff and our community is our first priority throughout this protocol. We are committed to adhering to public health guidelines and Government directives intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“To be clear, we will only train and potentially play cricket behind closed doors if we know it is absolutely safe to do so and is fully supported by the Government.
“We are in constant dialogue with players, coaches and counties to determine what is possible during this period and what facilities will be available to us. We are thankful that we have a united front across all of cricket’s stakeholders to prepare the players in a safe and secure environment,” he added.