Bio-secure bubble can operate under extreme situations: ECB

A 25-member Caribbean team will be arriving in chartered flights for the three-match Test series against England next Tuesday.

The Ageas Bowl in Hampshire will host the first Test between England and West Indies in July.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

England and Wales Cricket Board’s director of events Steve Elworthy said the bio-secure arrangements for next month’s Test series against the West Indies will be good enough to handle the “worst-case scenario” arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

England is set to play a home series against the West Indies in a bio-secure environment starting July 8. A 25-member Caribbean team will be arriving in chartered flights for the three-match Test series next Tuesday.

“The way we have structured the ‘bubble’ is that it can operate under the most extreme circumstances,” Elworthy told Sky Sports.

“All of our planning has been based on the worst-case scenario, from an infection and a rate-spike point of view.”

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The United Kingdom has recorded more than 2.70 lakh COVID-19 cases so far.

“So external factors should not affect that because, if you are secure within the venue, and you don’t break the confines of that venue, then your game should be able to go ahead with no problems at all,” Elworthy said.

The visiting team will have to stay under strict quarantine guidelines at Old Trafford for three weeks.

Elworthy also said that the ICC is discussing the possibility of allowing replacements if a player is tested positive for coronavirus and hoped it will be allowed at least in Tests.

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The ICC currently allows a like-for-like replacement for concussed players in all formats and Elworthy said COVID-replacements are something which the governing body is deliberating at the moment.

“COVID-replacements are certainly something that the ICC are discussing. I have seen communication about that and it’s certainly something we hope would be allowed - specifically for Test matches, not necessarily ODIs or T20s,” he said.

“That replacement would have to be a ‘like for like’ player, if you will. Our on-site COVID medical practitioner and Public Health England would be informed immediately and that player would then be put into isolation for a period of time, based on government guidance and the medical overlay.”

Elworthy, however, believes the need for a COVID-replacement will not arise since players will be thoroughly tested before getting into the bio-secure environment.

“With the testing protocols of getting those players into that (bio-secure) bubble first, you would hope that wouldn’t be a scenario we’d have to deal with. But clearly it is something we are planning for,” he said.

England has announced the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford as the two venues which will host the three Tests.

Giving the rationale behind selecting two venues, Elworthy said: “If you were to hold your first two Test matches at the same venue, you could end up possibly winning a series in the same conditions in the same venue, back-to-back. We felt that, to win a series, you should have to win it in two separate sets of conditions.

“We’re trying to reduce the amount of time that stakeholders or groups of people are locked down in (a particular) venue for periods of time. We’re trying to cover as many of those bases as possible.”

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