The England and Wales Cricket Board board is working on a special programme to ensure the men’s Test cricket team is able to play the series against West Indies and Pakistan scheduled for later in the summer marred by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a report in The Guardian, the plan is for the squad to be kept in an ‘isolation bubble’ so as to reduce the risk of players contracting Covid-19, with daily temperature checks and swabs also part of the regime. The players will be away from their families for at least nine weeks as per the proposed idea.
Joe Root and Co have already had had their first briefing about the biosecurity measures due to be in place this summer on Tuesday, continued the report. The ECB are of the belief that they will be able to restart Test cricket in July.
Plans are now being discussed for England to play six Tests, six ODIs and six T20s in just over two months from the start of July, with the centrepiece as three-Test series against the West Indies and Pakistan.
The start of the English cricket has been delayed until July 1 at the earliest by the pandemic, with the West Indies series already postponed from its original June dates.
Trying to salvage lucrative men’s internationals is the priority for the ECB, with chief executive Tom Harrison warning a complete wipeout of the 2020 season could cost the governing body £380 million ($469 million).
England players can be with their families between matches during a standard home season, but pacer Mark Wood said what was being proposed was not that different from a tour schedule.
“I’d be willing to do it,” he told reporters in a conference call on Thursday.
“Being away on tour for long periods of time you sort of get used to it. It would be very hard but as long as the environment is safe, my family are safe and everybody else there is safe then I’d be willing to do it,” added Wood, currently in lockdown with his wife and baby son.
Some 30 players could be chosen for a run of six Tests behind closed doors staged at the Ageas Bowl, the headquarters of southern county Hampshire, and Manchester’s Old Trafford.
Both venues are considered to have greater ‘bio-security’ than other Test match grounds thanks to the presence of on-site hotels.
- ‘Desperate’ -
Meanwhile Wood said he and his team-mates were “desperate” to get going again.
“I think everybody in the squad, as long as the conditions are right, would be willing to come back and play some cricket.”
“We’re desperate to get going. I know it would be a long stint and it would be hard but it would be good to get back out there at the same time.”
Wood has played just 15 Tests in five years since a 2015 debut, with his career blighted by injuries, including ankle and side problems.
But he insisted the proposed new schedule, which could feature six Tests in seven weeks, would not put him at a greater risk of breaking down and that he had no expectation of appearing in all the matches even if they had been played as scheduled.
“I wouldn’t have played every game, I’d be in and out of the side to manage my workload and manage my body,” he said.
“I think that will probably be the same for the all the fast bowlers, as long as we’ve got a good pool which I think we have at the moment. Coming in and out of the side shouldn’t be a problem.”
But Wood said it would feel strange being unable to go home if he wasn’t in the Test side.
“We’ve never been in these circumstances before where we don’t know what’s going to happen on the down days –- I guess you can’t just go home, so maybe you’ll have to train in small groups,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how it does work.”
With AFP Inputs
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