The ICC has given out guidelines as cricket moves towards resumption after being halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The international body in its 'ICC Back to Cricket Guidelines has made it clear that it is important to ensure there is no compromise on the health of individuals or the community and government guidelines are strictly adhered to.
The purpose of this document is to provide guidance for the safe resumption of cricket activities (training, playing, and travelling) in countries and regions at community, domestic professional and international levels. These guidelines have been developed by the ICC Medical Advisory Committee in consultation with Member Medical Representatives.
The ICC has made it clear that the members should use these guidelines to create polices for back to cricket activity within their own country. It should be read and adopted alongside any national and local government regulations and guidance which should always take precedence over these guidelines.
While the guidelines talk of the safety first approach, it further says: "Cricket requires players to be in close proximity at times and involves the use of shared facilities. Therefore, should a team member or opponent develop any CV-19 symptoms or be found to develop an infection, participants will require isolation and testing as they are most likely to have been in close contact.
"On-field behaviour that includes celebrations with body contact, and shared use of drink bottles, towels and equipment can pose a risk in cricket and should be strongly discouraged. Players should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own items (sunglasses, cap, jumpers, towels etc.) and instructed against handing over any items to umpires or teammates.
"Participants, in particular umpires, match referees and support staff may be considered vulnerable individuals that are at higher risk of severe illness due to CV-19. This includes older individuals (approx. 60+) and people of any age with underlying medical conditions such as cardiac, kidney, diabetes, obesity, weak innate immunity, etc.
"Safe and effective return of players to strength and conditioning (particularly bowlers). Limited preparation may cause higher injury levels. Cricket is officiated by umpires on the field of play and their health and well-being needs to be taken into full consideration as they spend the greatest amount of time in close proximity to players."
The guidelines also speak about taking government permission when it comes to resuming training and competition. "The first step towards the resumption of cricket is to seek permission and guidance from your government and public health authorities on resuming training and competition. Are spectators permitted? If so, what restrictions will apply?
"Consider the following ? Physical distancing of spectators by limiting entry numbers, controlling seating and guiding corridor movement of crowds; ensure public health advice is available before and during the event to all spectators; ensure entry is restricted to those acutely unwell or with symptoms of a viral illness; ensure there are entry warnings for those who are more 'at risk' of serious outcomes from the CV-19 virus; consider not serving food and drink to spectators to eliminate a chance of them coming into proximity with each other," it reads.
Educating players is another area the ICC is looking at in the guidelines. "Players at all levels should be made aware that the ICC is expected to ban the use of saliva on the ball in the very near future (on medical advice). Education should include preventative measures such as: general hygiene practices, hygiene practices specific to cricket such as no sharing of drink bottles and towels and the safe management of the ball. Wherever possible, items of cricket equipment should not be shared with anyone else unless an appropriate cleaning protocol is followed. Players should be advised to minimise the use of changing rooms, shower facilities and other communal areas. Where possible, players should be encouraged to shower and change at home instead of at match and training venues.
The guidelines speak broadly of three things that must be kept in mind when it comes to return to action: Back to Training; Back to Play and Back to Travel. The document offers specific guidance (where applicable) across all three elements.
"Health and temperature checks should be monitored for all participants at training and match venues. The ICC recommends a phased approach to resuming training activity starting with solo training followed by small group activities and thereafter larger groups and full training (in compliance with government restrictions). The load and intensity of training over the stages should be progressive to prevent injury.
For returning to action, the guidelines say: "Review domestic playing conditions to minimise risks associated with playing during this CV-19 period. Consider rule amendments to allow for the safe management of the ball, umpires to consider wearing gloves when handling the ball. Consideration should also be given to rule amendments to maintain social distancing (e.g. field positioning).
"On-field protocols ? For example, no unnecessary body contact and no handing over items (cap, towels, sunglasses etc.) to umpires or teammates. Each player should be responsible for their own items. Off-field protocols ? For example minimal use of communal facilities before and after the match, social distancing to be maintained at all times. A 'ready to play' approach should be adopted. Discourage sharing of all equipment where possible. If it is required ensure equipment is cleaned appropriately."
- If spectators are permitted, social distancing should be maintained.
For travel, the guidelines say: "Where possible, players should travel alone to and from trainings and matches unless they are living in the same household. Where this is not possible, social distancing should be maintained. Where using public transport to travel, players should avoid travelling at 'peak' transport times to limit contact with others."