Cricket Returns Today With Sanitisation Brakes, COVID Substitute, and Empty Stadium

It’s an unusual sight to witness stadiums in England without spectators but get used to it – due to the pandemic, the Test Series between England and West Indies will be played without spectators, and many rules to follow.

England Players pictured during their intra-squad warm-up match
England Players pictured during their intra-squad warm-up match

In the middle of the global pandemic, Coronavirus; this test will be the first cricket match in 3 months. The last cricket match was played on 13th March 2020, between New Zealand and Australia.

Ageas Bowl in Southampton will host the match and two will follow in Manchester later this month. England Cricket Board(ECB) has issued a list of do’s and don’ts in a 74-page booklet that it has sent to Southampton.

No Handshakes and Camera at Toss

Only the Captains – Ben Stokes and Jason Holder along with the match referee, Chris Broad will go out for the toss. No handshakes after the toss and no cameraman will be joining them.

Umpires To Carry Their Own Bails

Umpires Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettle Borough will carry their own set of bails. The bails and the stumps will be sanitized in the cleaning break.

No Ball Boys

Players are not allowed to share gloved, shirts, water bottles, sweaters, or even bags. There won’t be any ball boys as the reserved players from both the teams will be used as ball boys if the ball goes in the seating area.

The ground staff won’t go within 20 meters of the players on the cricket field. Additionally the social distancing rule of two square meters will be followed.

ICC had already banned the use of saliva on the ball to shine but in case it happens, a five-run penalty will be imposed after two warnings.

“If the ball goes into the stands for six then squad players wearing gloves will throw it back. Nobody else is allowed to touch it,” The Daily Telegraph quoted ECB events director Steve Elworthy as saying. “The Test match is going to feel very different for them, but they have been living this for a while already,” he said.

The English side will be captained by Ben Stokes in the absence of Joe Root, who will miss the first test for the birth of his second child.

However, the United Kingdom has the world’s seventh highest caseload of Covid-19 but ECB has still decided to host the West Indies and Pakistan because without any cricket, it was going to suffer as huge loss.

“Staging these matches will help to protect vital revenue streams for our game from broadcast deals and will also give a morale boost to cricket fans everywhere, and I’m delighted that we have found a way of doing this in an environment that will be safe and secure for all involved,” Ageas Bowl chief executive David Mann is quoted as saying on the ground’s website.

Isolation Units

The stadium will have an inner and an outer zone and “special isolation units in the ground.” The ICC has approved a COVID substitute, that is if a player shows any symptom, he will be replaced and the game will go on.

For journalists covering the match, the ECB has said in an advisory: “On arrival follow the signs for medical screening and once through you’ll walk through a thermal scanner and collect accreditation. Please enter via west gate where you’ll be thermal screened again and accreditation will be scanned. PPE is provided in both spaces (respective areas for reporters and photographers).”

At 3:30 IST, the world cricket world will witness the new normal.