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Balance will have to be found between cricket & bio-bubbles: ECB chief

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London, July 16 (IANS) England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chief executive, Tom Harrison has said that cricket will have to learn to live with the Covid-19 virus or else it risks compromising on the quality of life of players, who have been forced to live in bio-secure environments for months.

England cricket has been hit by a spate of Covid-19 cases where the entire first team and its supports staff had to self-isolate before the start of the ODI series against Pakistan recently and County side Kent too had to field a second side after a positive case in their camp.

With The Hundred scheduled to start on July 21, a lot more precautions have been put in place to ensure the tournament doesn’t get disrupted by the pandemic.

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“We want people feeling good about going out and playing in whatever tournament they’re playing in, whether that’s The Hundred, whether that’s a Test series against India, whether that is county cricket and the RL50,” Harrison was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

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“We want people to be feeling like their life is delivering for them, both at home and as professional cricketers, men and women. We don’t want to be closeting players in such a place where they feel like the only role they play in their life is to go out and bat and bowl for whatever team they’re playing,” added Harrison.

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He said the cricket boards around the world should pay more attention to the concerns of their players, many of whom have stayed away from family and friends for months due to professional commitments.

“I think that’s a bad place for us to be. We have to be understanding about what it is to be a responsible employer, to be able to get the best back from players. That’s by treating them like adults, and talking and communicating openly about how we best mitigate the impacts of this ongoing pandemic.”

Harrison said that a decision on whether his country’s Test cricketers, namely Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Joe Root, would be able to compete in The Hundred, was yet to be taken. The three, who are contracted to play in the inaugural edition of The Hundred, are an integral part of the England side scheduled to take on India in the five-Test series against India in August-September.

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But with the dates of The Hundred overlapping with the first couple of Tests and the stringent requirements of bio-secure bubbles, it could get difficult for them to play the lucrative tournament.

“We are working through that at the moment. Clearly we’ve got to make sure that we protect the India series but also it’s important they 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?

“I’m expecting them to play at the start of The Hundred, so once we finalise that this week, we’ll know exactly how many games they will be available for,” added Harrison.

–IANS

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