The English Cricket Board (ECB) has welcomed the British government’s approval of hosting their annual summer of cricket behind closed doors.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, over the weekend announced the further easing of lockdown restrictions for athletes by providing health and safety protocols to resume professional sport in the UK from Monday, 1 June.
The ECB has been forced to postpone their domestic and international schedule on more than one occasion due the Covid-19 pandemic.
The local County Championship was due to start in May already, while the West Indies and Pakistan have also been completing strict health preparations for their respective tours of England.
‘We are extremely heartened by Saturday’s announcement from the Secretary of State, which will support the return of professional, domestic cricket behind closed doors, and provides a meaningful next step for recreational players to begin playing at their clubs again,’ the ECB said in a statement.
The West Indies are due to travel to the UK this month where they will reside and train in a ‘bio-secure’ environment before their three-match Test series gets under way in July.
Similarly, the Pakistan squad will also assemble in a bio-bubble before their advanced departure for the UK in July, with a Test series now scheduled for August.
‘Over the coming week, we will seek to understand the specific guidance from Government’s medical teams so that we can provide support for cricket clubs who will be eager to see their communities safely playing in small groups. We extend our thanks to all those in Government who have worked hard to support the return of sport and we look forward to seeing players from across the game start returning to the field,’ the statement added.
It is likely that the matches will only be played at a small number of venues – Old Trafford in Manchester, Ageas Bowl in Southampton and Edgbaston in Birmingham, all of which outside London, where the pandemic epicentre is in England.