The ICC has advised its member nations to exercise caution while resuming cricket activities, fearing a spurt in local transmission with many countries still struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. As member nations ease restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic, the International Cricket Council on Friday issued comprehensive guidelines aimed at getting the sport up and running around the world while at the same time maintaining the highest safety protocols. 'Safety first' is one of the primary considerations of the ICC's back-to-cricket guidelines and involving the governments at all stages is a must.
"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.
While England remains one of the most affected countries, major cricket-playing nations such as India and Pakistan have seen a spike in the number of coronavirus positive cases in recent weeks. The world governing body of the sport added: "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."
Cricket, like other global sports, came to a screeching halt owing to the pandemic, which first originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province. Big-ticket events including the glitzy Indian Premier League and bilateral series were indefinitely postponed as the novel coronavirus got down to spreading its ugly tentacles across the world.
And even though cricket is a non-contact sport, the ICC is treading a cautious path considering the risk the unprecedented health crisis involves. Under the subhead government advice, the apex body guidelines stated, "ICC Members (and their own cricket communities) should be guided by the advice of their respective governments in relation to when sporting activity is resumed.
"Where sporting activities has been expressly forbidden by governments, no cricket activity should commence until approval to do so has been obtained from the government."
Government advice should also be sought in relation to "travel restrictions (domestic and international) and quarantine requirements". The ICC has also called for the need to educate players and all other stakeholders on the updated safety protocols in what is going to be a vastly different world.
"Education should include preventative measures such as: general hygiene practices such as regular and thorough washing of hands with soap and sanitizing with an alcohol-based hand-rub, refraining from touching your eyes, nose and mouth and good respiratory hygiene such as coughing or sneezing into your bent elbow etc.
"Hygiene practices specific to cricket such as no sharing of drink bottles and towels and the safe management of the ball."
Sharing of equipment will become a thing of the past. "Wherever possible, items of cricket equipment should not be shared with anyone else unless an appropriate cleaning protocol is followed.
"Players should be advised to minimise the use of changing rooms, shower facilities and other communal areas.
"Where possible, players should be encouraged to shower and change at home instead of at match and training venues."
It also stated that cricket must play a role in "supporting individuals to gain a sense of normalcy in their lives and carries with it important physical and mental health benefits".