Strict guidelines laid out for England net sessions
Batters prohibited from throwing the ball back to their coach as England players prepare to return to training
AAP & Cricket Network
15 May 2020, 11:28 AM AEST
England's cricketers are set to return to training next week under strict regulations as the sport takes its first steps towards a possible resumption.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) say a carefully controlled plan designed to be in line with the UK government's guidance has been put in place, with venues across the country to be utilised.
All players will train individually on a staggered basis alongside a coach, physio and conditioning coach, with each individual required to observe strict social distancing, hygiene and temperature testing protocols.
The Guardian is reporting that as part of a 'one skin per ball' policy, each player will be allocated their own box of balls that only they can touch and which must be placed in their kit bag when not in use.
Players will also be prohibited from using saliva to polish the balls.
Coaches, who will also have their own box of balls for throw downs, have been told they can wear a catching mitt on one hand and a rubber glove on the other, while all catching gloves and ball throwers must be disinfected between sessions.
Batsmen have been told they must kick or hit the ball back to their coach in the nets, rather than pick it up and throw it.
Players will also be required to leave immediately after their session – they are prohibited from using the dressing rooms at training venues – and are not allowed to store their equipment at grounds.
Bowlers will begin their training programs on Monday and a fortnight later batsmen and wicketkeepers will follow suit, with all sessions required to be held outdoors.
Temperatures of players and staff will be taken before they will be allowed to train and physios will have to wear personal protective equipment to treat injuries.
All players and staff have been told to use their own clearly marked water bottles and sanitise their hands regularly.
The English county season was supposed to get underway on April 12 but due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has halted sport around the world, it was pushed forward to July 1 with the much-vaunted Hundred tournament postponed until 2021.
The West Indies were slated to play three Tests from June 4 but discussions are underway about the matches being played behind closed doors at venues that have hotels on site later this summer.
Australia are due to play three ODI and three T20 matches from July 3, but that three-week tour will almost certainly be scrapped or rearranged for later in the year - possibly September.
But managing director of English men's cricket Ashley Giles admits there is no guarantee any cricket will be played in England in 2020.
"These are the first steps for players return to training ahead of international cricket potentially resuming later this (northern) summer," Giles said.
"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.
"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."