Umpires may wear gloves to handle the ball and refuse to take a bowler’s hat whenever cricket returns from its COVID-19 stoppage, while dressing-room beers are set to remain on ice.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has released a set of guidelines, developed by the governing body’s medical advisory committee in consultation with members, for the safe resumption of the sport.
The ICC’s cricket committee had already flagged likely law changes to the highest level, with local umpires to be used and players barred from using saliva to shine the ball.
Some of the sport’s other traditions will have to be scrapped if sides are to follow medical advice from the ICC group chaired by Australian doctor Peter Harcourt.
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Huddles could be a thing of the past.Source: Getty Images
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The post-wicket huddle will no longer be possible because of social-distancing requirements, while it is now recommended teams minimise “time spent in the changing room before and after a match”.
That would mean Australia and England’s squads have to forgo a customary post- series drink at the ground, should Justin Langer’s team tour the UK in September as has been mooted.
Players and officials will be told to maintain social distancing on the field, so bowlers won’t be handing over caps, sweaters, sunglasses or any other items to the standing umpire.
Players will be told not to pass items to teammates, so the common practice of flinging a helmet and other protective equipment to a fellow fielder will need to stop.
Shining the ball with spit will be a thing of the past.Source: AP
The ICC document spells out that international players should be provided with clear guidance on the safe management of the ball.
These include not using saliva to shine the ball, “regular hand sanitising when in contact with the ball” and an edict to not touch the eyes, nose and mouth after making contact with the ball.
“Umpires may also be encouraged to use gloves when handling the ball,” the ICC back-to-cricket guidelines note.
The COVID-19 document recommends considering “a strategy to deal with potential mental health issues” and that domestic playing conditions are reviewed to minimise risks.
Langer’s team are in the process of returning to pre-season training with their respective states.
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Steve Smith and other Sydney-based Test stars are set to hit the nets on June 1. Cricket Australia’s guidelines and state-specific restrictions will govern what players can and can’t do in the nets during coming weeks.
“People will make mistakes … there’s going to be a steep learning curve,” CA head of head of sports science Alex Kountouris said this week.