Club cricketers in England will be permitted to return to the nets for outdoor practice under strictly limited conditions, according to new guidance from the ECB, issued in the wake of the UK government’s partial lifting of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The new measures apply to England only – Wales will be conducting a separate review into its lockdown measures on May 28 – and will permit a maximum of two persons per net, unless they form part of the same household.
The new guidance offers a small glimmer of hope to the recreational game, which remains suspended until further notice.
“Our primary and ongoing goal is to protect the health of everyone in and around the game,” said the ECB in a statement. “The adjusted lockdown restrictions provide an opportunity for the use of outdoor cricket facilities (nets and pitches) for the purpose of undertaking exercise.”
The guidelines stipulate that social distancing of at least two metres must be maintained at all times (unless all participants are members of the same household), and that no more than one other person can take part in any given session, including one-on-one coaching.
Nets should be used on an ‘every other’ basis, leaving one net free between nets, and although clubhouses can provide access to toilets and first-aid facilities, all communal areas – including the bar and changing rooms – must remain closed for general use.
No indoor activity at all is permitted at this stage, and the ECB recommend that all players use their own equipment where possible. The use of sweat or saliva to polish the ball is prohibited, and players are encouraged to wash their hands before and after each session, and to bring their own hand sanitiser.
“ECB is clear that outdoor facilities should only reopen if those responsible for them are ready to do so,” the statement added, “and they can do so safely, following public health guidance: no club should reopen their outdoor facilities if they feel unable to meet the requirements.”
The full ECB guidance can be read here.