USA Cricket published its Guidelines for Returning to Train and Play on Saturday (June 6) to help in getting cricket training and playing back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic by highlighting some cricket-specific risks and giving recommendations for minimising them.
The guidelines contain information on best practices about resumption of training and playing cricket. However, it doesn’t state when cricket can/should start. That call is based on regulations in each local region.
“As we all know, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all aspects of society in this country and many domestic team sports, including cricket, have come to a stand-still,” said Iain Higgins, USA Chief Executive.
“We understand the important role that sport plays in society and have been working hard over the past few weeks to develop some Guidelines which cricket organizers can use to help shape their decision-making around how cricket should return in their own States as when it is safe and legally permissible to do so.”
The guidelines have recommended a three-phased approach – individual training, group training and competitive match play – with suggestions around the best practices in each phase. They will be reviewed again in the coming months to reflect the evolving risks and best practices.
“A few weeks ago we brought together more than 40 leagues from across the country to share their own local challenges and understand how USA Cricket might be able to support them,” he said.
“These Guidelines, which incorporate feedback from those Leagues as well as best practice from other USA-based team sports and cricket protocols being implemented elsewhere around the world, are part of the outcome from that initial dialogue. I’m grateful to the Leagues for sharing their concerns and ideas and I hope that these can be a helpful tool to organizers of all domestic cricket as and when it is safe and lawful for such activity to resume.”
“We applied a risk-based approach to the development of the Guidelines and they have been based upon a set of overarching principles outlined in the document. Most importantly, the health and safety of all participants should remain of paramount importance at all times and cricket communities should be guided by the advice of their respective local government and authorities in relation to when sporting activity should return and under what conditions.”
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Some of the phase-wise recommendations are as follows:
- Phase One – Individual Training
- Players should complete some basic fitness activities on their own to keep in good general health and fitness and to avoid unnecessary injuries.
- Any attempt to establish a base level of strength and fitness following a prolonged period of more inactivity should be with a graduating level of intensity and include in each session basic physical fitness activities and movements, as well as warm-ups, cool-downs and full stretching routines.
- At all times, activities should involve no contact with, or participation alongside, any other individual or partner (other than where such individual is a household member).
- Use of equipment such as cones and stumps should be limited but participants may use essential cricket equipment (i.e. bat, ball) for activities such as shadow batting, bowling and catching.
- Phase Two – Group Training and Practice
- All those responsible for convening group training and practice sessions (e.g. Leagues, Clubs, Academies or training facilities) should communicate to the participants (including parents) what mitigating steps they will be taking to protect against the risk of catching Covid-19 through group training or practice sessions.
- Players should make every effort to arrive at the ground/facility using their own method of transport. However, where they share a car with individuals outside of their own family or use public transport, then they should wear a cloth mask at all times.
- There should be a mandatory temperature check of all players prior to training commencement. All employees, officials, staff or consultants working at any facility should also be subjected to a mandatory temperature check at the commencement of work each day at the relevant facility.
- Hand cleaning products such as soap and water or sanitizer should be made available to all cricketers at all training sessions; players are strongly encouraged to bring own sanitizing products to ensure that they have easy access to such materials.
- All sharing of personal cricket equipment or “team kit” should be strongly discouraged.
- There should be no deliberate physical contact at any time or for any reason.
- All players should bring their own drinks/containers to the session; there should be no sharing of drinks or drinks bottles/containers.
- Maximum of three bowlers per net at any time. Batters must tap ball back to bowler with the bat. Coaches use baseball mitt or gloves at all times throughout a session. Coaches should carry out a basic assessment of individual fitness for all players prior to involving them in group training sessions.
- There should be no possibility of interaction permitted between groups who have finished a training session and those who have arrived for a new session.
- Phase Three – Competition and Match Play
- Follow social distancing guidelines, all players should be 6ft apart in a circle during team meetings.
- Both members of the batting pair should remain 6 ft away from each other at all times, with particular care to be taken when communicating orally throughout the match.
- There should be no team huddles, hugs, ‘high-fives’, handshakes or anything that requires physical contact of any type.
- The umpire at the bowler’s end should stand 3 ft behind stumps to ensure safe distance from the non-striking batter.
- Scorers should be 6ft apart from one another and bring their own pens, pencils and devices to score
Apart from these there were recommendations for gradually returning to bowling as well as throwing.