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What might a return to cricket be like with ‘social distancing’?

By Graeme Hough This is written from the viewpoint of a huge ‘IF’ a return to cricket is possible this summer what form may it take assuming that social distancing measures will remain in place. A newspaper article I saw earlier this week about umpires not holding jumpers, caps and sunglasses for players is what got me thinking. Some of the below may sound a bit tongue in cheek, far-fetched or over the top but this could be the reality. It does beg the question of whether it will be worth it, whether it can be policed, whether it takes away from the balance of the game, or whether it will be enjoyable in this context. That is all without other considerations such as the format of cricket to be played, friendlies or league games, the availability of umpires and scorers, or the participation of vulnerable players to name a few. Here goes…..

Rules, protocols and code of conduct Clubs will presumably need to be mindful of any legal risk if they don’t take all such sensible precautions to mitigate the risks. Some form of COVID-19 code of conduct that all players and officials must sign up to and adhere to might need to be drawn up. That is unless the ECB or individual cricket league committees show some leadership on this. In addition there would be a need for constant reminders about hand cleaning, not touching faces, etc. A plentiful supply of hand sanitiser and wipes would be needed.

Players and officials

Anyone showing any sign of symptoms will be expected to stay away as will anyone who has been in close proximity to someone infected. Anyone identified as ‘high risk’, or who lives with someone identified as such, will need to consider staying away from cricket. Arriving at matches and training - Parents will be encouraged to drop off and pick up junior players as far as is feasible

- Individuals may have to make their own way to matches

- Changing and showering will not be possible at the Club’s facilities – turn up in whites or change in the bushes !

- All players will need to bring their own equipment - no sharing of bats, gloves, helmets

Training and matches - Warm-ups not to involve a ball - players to stretch, jog, etc, instead

- No sharing of balls

- Players to keep a 2-metre distance between each other - Everyone to avoid any physical contact – no huddles, backslaps or hand shaking - No saliva to be applied to the ball by bowlers or fielders - Umpires not to hold any items for players - Bring your own food & drink and eat outside when possible - No spectators unless they keep a distance from each other - Scorers not to sit together

On the pitch - 2 metres to be maintained between all players as far as is possible, including wicket keepers standing at least 1 metre behind the stumps to keep distance from the batsman - The non-striker to stand wider than usual and batsmen should run wider than normal to allow fielders over the stumps to receive the ball - The bowler’s end umpire will somehow need to position him/herself such that a 2 metre clearance is given to the bowler - Square leg fielder can’t have a leisurely chat with the umpire ! - No passing the ball around back to the bowler – whoever fields it throws it straight back to bowler – hand gel to be held on field by umpires for use after each touching of the ball

Post match Bars will remain closed all season and post-match socialising will be discouraged – so back in your car, on a bus, train or a cab in your whites ! Or back to the bushes !

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