How cricket can restart amid COVID-19? ICC spells out

Guidelines include pre-match isolation camp, chartered flights with seat spacing for social distancing to regular hand sanitising when in contact with the ball.

India cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Rishabh Pant at a training session during the ICC World Cup in 2019.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has recommended a phased approach to resuming cricketing activities in compliance with the government regulations.

The cricket’s governing body issued 'ICC Back to Cricket Guidelines' — developed by the medical advisory committee in consultation with member medical representatives — on Friday.

READ | ICC recommends multi-phased approach to training

There hasn’t been any cricketing activities since the outbreak of the coronavirus in March and now as some of the countries gear up for resumption, the ICC said that the member nations should “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 has also asked its member nations to exercise caution while resuming cricket activities. “The resumption of cricket activities should begin only if there is no perceived or known risk that doing so might result in an increase in the local transmission rate,” the ICC said in its guidelines.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that risks associated with the cricket environment -- field of play, training venue, changing rooms, equipment, management of the ball have been mitigated before any training session or match,” the ICC stated.

Pre-match isolation camp

They should also consider the need for a pre-match isolation training camp with health, temperature checks and COVID-19 testing – example, at least 14 days prior to travel to ensure the team is COVID-19 free.

The ICC guideline also talks about developing an appropriate COVID-19 testing plan during training and competition. This will entail: Testing plan – frequency and timing of CV-19 tests, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – laboratory based or point of care testing (speed, accuracy, and cost considerations), Optional serology testing, Private vs government laboratory (speed and cost), Medical support – requirement of infectious disease doctors and nurses for sample collection and results management.

READ| Coronavirus: Broadcasters, groundsmen among hardest-hit by cricket shutdown

“A risk assessment of training and match venues must be carried out to ensure precautions are taken to minimise risks and provide a safe workplace for those participating in cricket,” the guidelines stated.

This should include the protocol and frequency of cleaning shared facilities, availability of hand sanitisers in prominent places (entry/exit and high traffic areas) around training and match venues.

The boards must ensure protocols are in place for players attending training or competition to maintain social distancing of at least 1.5m on-field and off-field (or as indicated in government guidelines in your country).

“Consider the age and health of participants and recommend against high-risk individuals participating in training or competition,” the guideline said.

Saurashtra and India internationals Jaydev Unadkat and Cheteshwar Pujara with the Ranji Trophy, the last tournament before the COVID-19 pandemic.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

 

They should develop a process for participants to report COVID-19 symptoms and for team doctors to monitor health. Personal equipment should be sanitised before and after use (training and competition). Equipment sharing should be avoided where possible and if sharing is required (such as in the gymnasium) strict hygiene and sanitising protocols should be followed.

Treatment beds in medical rooms should have no bed linen and should be appropriately and thoroughly cleaned before/after every patient. All participants should adopt a ‘ready to train’ approach where possible; come to training prepared without the need to use any communal facilities such as changing rooms or showering facilities.

The ICC believes that it is important that players are given adequate timescales to build to the required intensity. “The three international formats all have differing physical requirements. An adequate level of physical preparedness is required to underpin the return to international cricket.”

Chartered flights, social distancing

One of the major suggestions in terms of travelling is that the Boards should consider chartered flights and seat spacing to ensure social distancing.

The boards should “check government requirements on resuming international travel and the potential need for self-isolation or quarantine on individual players or teams on entering another country and returning to their country.”

The transports should be cleaned regularly and there should be seat spacing, use of PPE and distance (time and space) between the arrival of teams at match venues.

In terms of accommodation, boards should consider dedicated hotel floor, single rooms, food quality and hygiene. International teams should strongly consider travelling with a medical doctor. Travelling teams should ensure necessary arrangements are in place to support a team member should they test positive while on tour.

Back to play

Assess the extent to which the COVID-19 virus is active in:

The community where trainings and/or match(es) will be conducted and take the necessary precautions to minimise risks to participants.

The community(ies) of the competitor(s) and put in place mitigation plans for each team based on the COVID-19 risk of their respective communities.

The community’s ability to manage CV-19 cases medically where training and/or match(es) will be conducted.

Consider the need for medical resources for a series or event and ensure it does not compromise on public health CV-19 efforts.

Appoint on-call doctors for each venue to provide medical cover for match officials and other participants.

Consider necessary specialist and hospital support in case a participant contracts COVID-19.

Provide players with clear guidance on the safe management of the ball. This will include regular hand sanitising when in contact with the ball.

Do not touch eyes, nose, and mouth after making contact with the ball.

Saliva should not be used on the ball.

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. 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.

Consider using adjoining appropriate areas as additional changing room facilities to allow for social distancing.

Minimise time spent in the changing room before and after a match.

Consider a strategy to deal with potential mental health issues.

If spectators are permitted, consider restrictions and additional safety measures that will need to be implemented.

Consider a strategy in case of increased levels of staff/volunteer absences.

Develop a strategy to enable players who require medical care/treatment outside of the bio-safety environment (e.g. hospitals) to be able to access the same without compromising the safety of the environment. This may include:

Travel in a sanitised vehicle to and from the bio-safety bubble.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by the player and support staff accompanying the player.

Hosts to facilitate speedy consultations and tests to minimise waiting time in hospitals or clinics.

Back to travel

Check government requirements on resuming international travel and the potential need for self-isolation or quarantine on individual players or teams on entering another country and returning to their country.

Travel – consider chartered flights and seat spacing to ensure social distancing.

Transport – consider regular and adequate cleaning, seat spacing, use of PPE and distance (time and space) between the arrival of teams at match venues.

Accommodation – consider dedicated hotel floor, single rooms, food quality and hygiene.

International teams should strongly consider travelling with a medical doctor.

Travelling teams should ensure necessary arrangements are in place to support a team member should they test positive while on tour.

 

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