Testing athletes for coronavirus far from country’s priority list – ECB
The England and Wales Cricket Council has warned the sport cannot consider returning until enough testing is done for those on the front lines of the national coronavirus response.
The ECB board has extended the delay of the 2020 national season to at least July 1, meaning that England’s test run against the West Indies and England women’s matches against the India were suspended in addition to new setbacks for the county game.
Any further postponement will see the rhetoric of rescheduling and postponement shift to outright cancellation, a damaging situation in terms of both logistics and finance, but given the global impact of the pandemic that must be addressed. perspective.
With government approval required before any professional sport returns, the idea of Joe Root having access to medical facilities that have yet to reach some nurses and caregivers is unlikely to gain favor.
Harrison said: “It is clear that there should be a significant testing regime in place. But what we have to be really careful with here is to understand that at the present time testing elite athletes, or testing people in respect of sport, just cannot be a priority in the context of the national health crisis and the challenges facing frontline workers and vulnerable people. focused towards.
“We are in the midst of a global crisis and our priority – beyond playing professional sport – will be to protect vulnerable and key workers and society as a whole. This is why, in simple terms, there will be no cricket unless it is safe to play. Our timetable will only be brought forward if government directives allow it.
“We’re probably getting to the point where any further delay beyond what we’ve already started planning will involve the loss of cricket rather than rescheduling.”
With this in mind, the idea of moving from site to site for matches could be seen at best unnecessary and at worst potentially harmful, given the delicate and costly nature of maintaining “bio-secure” environments. on each land.
Therefore, the idea of finishing any international cricket in just a few suitable places is on the cards.
“From circulating the game across the country to giving fans a chance to see England in their backyard, the whole mindset changes because there is no one seeing England playing live, ”added Harrison.
“That’s the goal we put on this: what is the minimum number of pitches we need for our desired international program and how are we responding to it? We have pitches to prepare and formats over several days that add a layer of complexity.
Authorities in the UAE are said to be willing to offer their state-of-the-art stadiums between October and January, with Surrey President Richard Thompson among those open to the idea.
“These offers are on the table. The problem is how crowded our winter is, so we have to be pragmatic to create space. “
For now, the simple practicalities of world travel remain very sensitive and with four touring teams still expected on English soil in the coming months – Pakistan, Australia and Ireland as well as the West Indies – there are detailed conversations to be had with their respective boards. .
“We will have to make sure that players on both sides have all received the right level of information to put them at ease that the medical and health arrangements are in place to ensure their safety as much as possible, at a level of. acceptable risk. ”Harrison said.
When it comes to County Cricket, Vitality Blast is treated as the priority and will be pushed back as late as possible to ensure maximum chances to move forward. The County Championship has now lost nine innings and even the best scenarios represent only a handful of red ball matches.