Dubai, May 22: As international cricket plots its return from the coronavirus hiatus, the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Friday (May 22) recommended a slew of radical measures, such as the appointment of chief medical officers, a 14-day pre-match isolation training camp and use of gloves by umpires while handling the ball.
As member nations ease restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the ICC issued comprehensive guidelines aimed at getting the sport up and running around the world while at the same time maintaining the highest safety protocols.
Among the guidelines, the ICC has recommended the appointment of a chief medical or a bio-safety officer to ensure all the respective government guidelines are followed as players return to training. The sport's governing body recommended having a pre-match isolation training camp that will involve temperature checks and COVID-19 testing at least 14 days prior to travel.
"Consider appointing a Chief Medical Officer and/or Biosafety Official who will be responsible for implementing government regulations and the biosafety plan to resume training and competition," the ICC said in one of the pointers.
Another point was, "Consider the need for a pre-match isolation training camp with health, temperature checks and CV-19 testing - e.g. at least 14 days prior to travel to ensure the team is CV-19 free."
The ICC has also asked for the formulation of an adequate testing plan during practice and match situation.
"Players and umpires should maintain social distancing on the cricket field and that includes no handing over of player items (cap, towels, sunglasses, jumpers) to the umpire or teammates," read the ICC playing guidelines. However, there was no clarity on who will keep the players' items.
"Consider adopting a process that will assist the bowler in managing his/her items. Umpires may also be encouraged to use gloves when handling the ball," says the governing body.
The players are unlikely to keep their cap or sunglasses in the field of play as it would attract penalty runs just like in the case of a helmet. The ICC also wants them to minimise their "time spent in the changing room before and after a match".
The ICC said it seeks to only provide a framework with practical suggestions on how member nations can resume cricket once the pandemic subsides. Using these guidelines to formulate their own policies, the ICC advised its affiliates to work in tandem with their respective governments to work their way back into cricketing activities.
The ICC called on the respective boards to provide a safe workplace for the cricketers, which entails risk assessment of training and match venues. The governing body also recommended maintaining a 1.5m distance (or as directed by the respective governments) between players at all times, and thorough sanitisation of personal equipment.
"All participants should adopt a 'ready to train' approach where possible i.e. come to training prepared without the need to use any communal facilities such as changing rooms or showering facilities," read one of the training guidelines. "Personal equipment should be sanitised before and after use (training and competition)," read another one.
As far as the bowlers are concerned, the apex body has issued specific guidelines considering their workload and the risk they run of getting injured. Recommendations included having a larger squad for reduced workload.
"Bowlers are at a particularly high risk of injury on return to play after a period of enforced time-out. "When looking at timescales, consideration needs to be given to the age and physical preparedness as this will influence the risk and length of time required to develop appropriate bowling loads that will allow a safe and effective return to international cricket."
The ICC also suggested format-specific training periods for bowlers all over the world, allowing them a minimum of 5-6 weeks of training, with the last three weeks involving bowling at match intensity in order to facilitate their return to T20Is.
The minimum preparation period for ODIs has been set at six weeks while for Tests, it recommended a preparation time of up to 2-3 months with the last 4-5 weeks involving bowling at full throttle. International cricket has been in suspension because of the pandemic that has claimed more three lakh lives globally.
(With PTI inputs)