London, July 18 (IANS) Ahead of the start of the inaugural season of The Hundred on July 21, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has asked the players and support staff to avoid shops, pubs and restaurants to mitigate the risk of Covid-19 spread inside the bio-bubbles.
A compliance officer has also been appointed for each competing team.
The month-long tournament, which will conclude on August 21, has seen a spate of withdrawals, notably New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, Pakistan paceman Shaheen Afridi, Australia’s Glenn Maxwell, David Warner and Marcus Stoinis, among others due bio-bubble fatigue, national team engagements and injuries.
While the cricketers will not be confined to their hotel rooms, but in order to cut the risk of COVID-19 infections, they have been asked to avoid crowded places, especially since UK is relaxing its remaining Covid-19 restrictions from July 19 onwards.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on English cricket with the entire first team for the ODI series against Pakistan — which concluded recently with England winning 3-0 under new skipper Ben Stokes — self-isolating after seven members in the squad tested positive for the virus. English county side Kent too has fielded its second team after a case in its first side.
While UK is set to relax Covid-19 restrictions from July 19 onwards, Public Health England will continue to implement norms for those who come in close contact with those who have tested positive. A 10-day self-isolation norm will continue to be enforced till August 16, two days before the end of The Hundred’s group stage.
ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, too has said that cricket will have to learn to live with the Covid-19 virus.
“Clearly we’ve got to make sure that we protect the India series but also it’s important they (players) take part in The Hundred. The thinking is around their travel, their accommodation, how do we make sure they’re not in close contact with anyone outside of the environment, do we need to put additional protocols around them?” Harrison had said recently, indicating that bio-secure bubbles could not be put at risk when the country relaxes its COVID restrictions.
“I hope we’re in a position where we can cope through the protocols that are designed to cope with small outbreaks or being able to mitigate the impact on entire squads. There are risks — I can’t say they don’t exist because they do… (but) we have to learn to cope with Covid. Mitigation is the word as opposed to prevention,” Harrison was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.