The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Thursday confirmed that the men's team will return to individual skills-based training, beginning from next week under "strict" protocols amid the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, all the global sporting events have either been postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus fear. The IPL 2020 that was supposed to get underway on March 29 has as of now been indefinitely suspended. The semi-final and final matches of the ongoing edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) have been postponed as well.
"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," ECB said in a 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.
After a two-week period, once the bowlers have reached their desired loading efforts, dedicated batsmen and wicketkeepers will start their respective training programmes on an individual basis.
The protocols state that each individual will observe "strict social-distancing, hygiene and temperature testing protocols" and dressing rooms and other venue facilities will be closed. Also, players and support staff will arrive in training kit ready to practice and the physio will have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), funded by ECB, to treat injuries.
The next two phases of training, which will be imposed by the Government in conjunction with the ECB's medical team, will be announced in due course. It is expected that the England women's players will resume training in late June.
England Men's Cricket, Managing Director, Ashley Giles said the safety of players, staff, and our community is their first priority throughout this protocol.
"These are the first steps for players return to training ahead of international cricket potentially resuming later this summer. 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," Giles said in a statement.
"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.
England had won their maiden World Cup last year after getting the better of a resurgent New Zealand side in a thrilling super over after both teams were tied at 241 after the end of regulation time i.e. 100 overs of cricket.
(Image Courtesy: AP)
(With ANI Inputs)