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Cricket and COVID-19: your questions answered

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Cricket and COVID-19: your questions answered

The health and safety of everyone involved in cricket is the ECB's top priority

On this page we have brought together all of your questions about the impact of COVID-19 on every area of our game.

We will continue to update this article over the coming days and weeks. 

Recreational game

What is happening to the club season?

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is delighted that the UK Government has given the green light for recreational cricket in England to return from Saturday 11 July.

The Prime Minister’s announcement last week signalled progression from Step 3 to Step 4 of ECB’s roadmap to return for recreational cricket.

In Step 4 some adaptations will be in place for all cricket activity – applicable to players, parents, clubs, coaches, spectators and officials. Those adaptations relate to activity prior to, during and after cricket activity.

Here is ECB’s full guidance for the return to recreational cricket in England. The UK Government's announcement pertaining to recreational cricket applies at this time to England only.

Guidelines specifically relating to Wales can be found here

Will the ECB support grassroots clubs as the season has been delayed?

It is the ECB’s responsibility to protect the whole game’s future during a period of extreme financial uncertainty for our sport.

The ECB has announced two interim funding packages with a total of £96.7million made available to support the recreational and first-class game during COVID-19.

Within this figure a total of £25.5m has been set aside for the recreational game with £20m made immediately available following the initial support package in March and a further £5.5m available to County Cricket Boards from 1 August.

These packages represent the beginning of addressing the impact of the crisis on cricket and we can not underestimate the significant financial burden that lies ahead of us.

We will continue to work with our County Cricket Boards (CCBs) and our leagues and clubs across the country to understand the support that is required.

In addition to the support packages, cricket clubs and leagues are able to apply to three new funding schemes specifically designed to help see them through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Please follow this link for comprehensive information on the ECB Emergency Loan Scheme, the Return To Cricket Grant Scheme and the ECB League Emergency Loan Scheme. 

Are clubs able to source any additional financial help beyond the ECB?

There are a range of other financial support packages that are available to recreational sport and we strongly encourage local clubs and leagues to investigate their eligibility for these, which are available immediately subject to meeting the respective criteria. 

These include, but are not limited to: 

Should clubs still be running indoor nets or any pre-season social event?

ECB’s guidelines for the return to recreational cricket are available here.

Current UK Government advice does not extend to indoor cricket activity. 

Use of the clubhouse, changing rooms and toilets should also adhere to the latest Government advice.

When cricket can be played, will there be any guidance on individual behaviour, for example, sharing equipment, shining the ball using saliva?

Yes. ECB’s guidelines for the return to recreational cricket in England and in Wales are available here.

Our medical teams will support and guide during and beyond this crisis to protect the health and wellbeing of all players and club staff.

Within these detailed guidance documents there is information regarding the use of equipment – which is based on the UK and Welsh Governments' current advice.

Our guidelines include directions on how to mitigate any risk from handling the ball as we continue to prioritise the health and safety of the cricket family in all of our decision-making. 

Will Dynamos Cricket and All Stars Cricket take place later this summer?

Although the UK Government has given the green light for the return of recreational cricket from 11 July, it has become clear that given the current restrictions we will sadly be unable to run certain elements of the scheduled 2020 cricket season. We have therefore reached the tough decision that Dynamos Cricket will not take place in 2020.

With the restrictions caused by COVID-19, we are unable to launch a brand new programme, provide the money-can't-buy opportunities and deliver a high-quality experience with fully trained activators this summer.

Being a new offering, it was our intention to provide clubs and activators with the necessary new training to deliver Dynamos Cricket in March and April this year, but unfortunately the ongoing restrictions have meant we were unable to do this so are unable to launch as we had hoped.

Together with Dynamos clubs, we will do everything we can to give those who had signed up to take part in Dynamos an opportunity to play this summer when it is safe to do so.

Clubs who have previously run All Stars Cricket can now do so again provided they comply with the Step 4 guidance. We will release specific guidance for All Stars Cricket shortly. For clubs looking to run All Stars Cricket for the first time, please contact your local County Cricket Board for further information.

What’s your advice to elderly members of cricket clubs?

Our best advice to anyone involved in cricket is to follow the Government’s latest advice.

What is the advice to grounds maintenance teams in the recreational game?

The ECB has shared guidance with the recreational game for grounds maintenance teams.

Now that recreational cricket has progressed to Step 4, grounds maintenance teams are able to upkeep their cricket clubs in line with UK Government guidelines.

Our guidance for England and guidance for Wales should assist clubs in preparing their facilities for the return of the recreational game.

Can ECB provide guidance on how clubs should act to stop people turning up and playing social games of cricket?

Everyone should be following government advice on social distancing at this time. 

Clubs are recommended to contact their local police if their ground is being used in a way that does not comply with that advice.

In this detailed guidance document we recommend clubs display signage that indicated when facilities are not open (including where a club does not wish to or is not ready to reopen) to deter use by general public particularly where there is open access.

Can clubs make plans for activity now that 11 July has been announced as the game’s return date?

Yes. We want to help clubs to make sure cricket can start again from 11 July.

We advise all clubs to be flexible and ensure the safety of everyone involved at the club in line with the latest Government advice.

What should we do if someone at our club contracts COVID-19?

For the latest Government advice, please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Current guidelines for returning to recreational cricket in England can be found here.

Read guidelines specifically relating to Wales here

Current guidelines for preparing your facilities ahead of a return to recreational cricket can be found here and here.

Professional game

International fixtures 

Will the international summer be impacted? 

We have announced that the England Men’s team will play series against West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan this summer. Matches will be played behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford.

Discussions are progressing for England Women to play a tri-series against India and South Africa later this summer while we are also working towards rescheduling the postponed England Men’s white-ball series against Australia for later this summer.

Any rescheduled matches will be played without spectators.

When will domestic cricket return?

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the professional men’s county cricket season to begin on 1 August.

All 18 First-Class Counties will compete in a red-ball and white-ball competition.

This summer’s shortened red-ball competition will be named the Bob Willis Trophy and is set to begin on 1 August. The Vitality Blast will commence on 27 August.

A commitment to play women’s domestic cricket in 2020 has also been made, but may differ from the planned rollout of the new women’s elite domestic structure.

The women’s elite domestic structure is the equivalent of the men’s county set-up and is formed of eight regions. Establishing a structure for a new competition during a pandemic has provided specific challenges for the women’s domestic game, most notably having the required medical personnel in place to handle stringent return-to-play protocols.

Preparation and planning for the season across the men’s and women’s domestic game remains subject to ongoing advice from Government and medical professionals with the safety of players, staff and officials the first priority.

A dedicated working group with representatives from the First-Class Counties and ECB has been formed to provide specific focus to Domestic Cricket, while COVID-19 continues to impact the game.

The main objectives for this group are:

  • To develop a single set of operating procedures that will incorporate cricket operations, venue operations and medical protocols
  • To provide a single delivery model that can be implemented across all 18 FCCs and regional women’s teams
  • To provide feedback and progress to the ECB Board and FCC Chairs

The fixture schedule for men’s and women’s domestic cricket is due to be announced later in July.

Will you play international cricket behind closed doors?

Our main objective is to provide an absolutely safe and secure environment for all players, match officials, staff, broadcasters, spectators and media in line with Government guidance.

As such, all of the remaining international matches this summer will be played without spectators.

Those international matches for which we have announced a schedule for this summer – Men’s West Indies, Ireland and Pakistan series – will be played behind closed doors at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford.

The venues for the remaining postponed matches – Men’s Australia and Women’s India and South Africa series – will be confirmed in line with a confirmed schedule.

When will international cricket take place?

England Men began their three-Test series against West Indies at the Ageas Bowl on 8 July. The final two Tests will be staged at Emirates Old Trafford.

England Men will play Ireland in three Royal London Internationals at the Ageas Bowl. The opening match of the series is scheduled for 30 July.

England Men will host Pakistan in a three-Test series followed by a three-match Vitality IT20 series.

The Test series against Pakistan is scheduled to start at Emirates Old Trafford on 5 August, with the final two Tests set to be held at the Ageas Bowl. The IT20s will be staged at Emirates Old Trafford with the opening match set for 28 August.

Discussions are progressing for England Women to play a tri-series against India and South Africa later this summer while we are also working towards rescheduling the postponed England Men’s white-ball series against Australia for later this summer.

Will women’s international cricket still be scheduled?

The ECB has made a commitment to support and grow women’s cricket and discussions are progressing to host a tri-series against India and South Africa later this summer without spectators.

Domestic fixtures

What has been your priority in modelling a revised schedule?

We are being guided by four key priorities:

  1. Public safety, health and wellbeing of players, operational staff and cricket fans;
  2. The most financially important forms of cricket for our First-Class Counties: International cricket and the Vitality Blast to help ensure the future of 18 First-Class Counties and the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC);
  3. Working closely with our broadcast partners to provide as much live cricket as possible to cricket fans; and
  4. Supporting the women’s game to continue its growth journey

With professional cricket postponed until 1 August, what impact will this have on the County Championship?

This summer a shortened red-ball competition, named the Bob Willis Trophy, will be staged instead of the County Championship.

The new competition is set to be regionalised with each county playing five group-stage matches before the top-two teams meet in a final.

The fixture schedule for the Bob Willis Trophy will be announced later in July.

What matches will be impacted by the delayed season start to 1 August?

  1. The English professional domestic cricket season was scheduled to begin on March 24 with the traditional Champion County match between holders Essex and MCC in Galle, Sri Lanka.
  2. The men’s County Championship was due to start on Sunday April 12 and in total 10 rounds were scheduled up to August 1.
  3. The Vitality Blast was due to commence on May 28 and all group-stage matches were to be staged before the end of July.
  4. The men’s Royal London Cup was due to begin on July 19. A total of 41 matches in the competition were due to be played before the end of July.
  5. Fifty-over matches between National Counties and First-Class Counties had been scheduled from July 15-17.
  6. It was announced in April that the launch of the men’s and women’s The Hundred competitions, which were due to begin in July, have been postponed until next summer.

What’s happening with the Royal London Cup?

The Royal London Cup will not be staged this summer after the First-Class Counties agreed to play a red-ball competition in addition to the Vitality Blast during the shortened season.

Refunds

How can fans get refunds for international fixtures?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECB has announced that any Men’s and Women’s 2020 International matches that take place this summer will be played without spectators to ensure the safety of all involved.

Ticket purchasers for original match days will be entitled to a refund. Original host venues will contact ticket purchasers to communicate the process for obtaining a refund, as well as any other options that may be available to them.

Can fans get refunds for any international fixtures?

If you are a ticket holder for a fixture later in the season, you do not need to do anything at this stage. We are working with our partners across the game to determine how best to reschedule 2020 fixtures when it is safe to do so. Please await further advice from the ECB as to rescheduling plans and how this impacts ticket holders.

Original ticket purchasers will be notified in the event that a match is rearranged. Within this communication, we will outline the process for obtaining a refund if you do not wish to attend the rescheduled date.

In the event that a major match is cancelled or has been rescheduled to be played ‘behind closed doors’ without spectators present, original ticket purchasers will be notified by the host venue. This communication will include the process for obtaining a refund, as well as any other options that may be available to you.

How can fans get refunds for the Vitality Blast given the dates have changed?

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given its approval for the professional men’s county cricket season to begin on 1 August 2020

The 18 First-Class Counties have agreed to play a shortened Vitality Blast, starting on 27 August, with a new fixture schedule to be published later in July.

If you are a Vitality Blast ticket holder, you do not need to do anything at this stage. We are working with our partners across the game to determine how best to reschedule Vitality Blast in 2020. Please await further advice from the ECB as to rescheduling plans and how this impacts ticket holders.

When any revised schedule is announced each host venue will communicate its own ticket policy, which will inform group-stage ticket holders of their options. Ticket holders should wait for this information which will provide further detail.

Players

What does the ECB think of the men’s and women’s England players taking pay cuts?

The commitments offered by both men’s and women’s England players demonstrates how cricket is unified in offering solutions to the problems we are facing as a sport and nation in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This could take the form of financial commitments, supporting society by sharing important public messaging, or volunteering for the NHS.

This financial commitment comes before a ball has been played in the season, and where the true financial impact is still unknown. We look forward to continued discussions and support as the situation unfolds.

Are you worried about players’ mental health? How will you support them?

The wellbeing of our England players is a priority.

Our England teams retain access to our world-class backroom staff to support both their physical and psychological wellbeing.

We remain in contact with our England teams and will continue to have a duty of care to ensure they receive the support they require.

In addition, the PCA recently announced a new partnership with Sporting Chance to deliver all mental health provisions from the players’ charity, the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

The ECB wholeheartedly supports this, including making a significant financial contribution.

Support for society

Could clubs, stadiums and sports halls be repurposed?

Our organisational mission is about “connecting communities and improving lives through cricket”. That’s one of the reasons we launched Together Through This Test, to shine a light on the hard work of everyone in cricket during this period.

This purpose goes right to the heart of everything we do, so it is really important that we work closely with the whole cricket family to encourage clubs, players and followers to support their communities during this difficult time.

We are seeing some fantastic examples of cricket facilities being used to fight COVID-19 and support society. For example, Warwickshire CCC has donated Edgbaston to the Department of Health and Social Care to create a drive-through COVID-19 testing station, which will be used to regularly test NHS staff.

Durham and Kent CCC have made their grounds available to the NHS, while Lord’s is supporting its local hospital by providing car parking.

How can players help boost morale?

Players have a massive following and reach so we’re working with them to help us inform, support and entertain during these difficult times, including through the media, digital content and via messages to those most vulnerable.

Many England and county players have demonstrated how cricket comes together in difficult times like this.

Jos Buttler has donated his World Cup Final shirt to the cause, Sam Billings shaved his head for charity and three members of the England Women’s team – Heather Knight, Tammy Beaumont and Sophia Dunkley – volunteered to support the NHS.

Check out our England Cricket channels across Instagram, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook to see messages and content direct from players at home.

Can any of cricket’s health professionals volunteer to help the fight against COVID-19?

We are working closely with the cricket network and Government to understand how cricket personnel can be of best help and can support society. Some of our medical staff also work for the NHS and are supporting the efforts.

We have also shared the NHS’s call for volunteers with our network and supporters to encourage those who can to join the volunteer team. Players are helping to amplify this message as well to their large fan bases.

How can cricket come together to support the most vulnerable in society? Surely a lot of its fans and members fall into that category.

There is some brilliant work happening across the whole cricket network to support communities during this difficult time. For example, some county clubs have started to call elderly members and stewards to “check in” and, if required, provide them with support to point them to groups they can use while in isolation.

More information on how the game has been supporting society through this period can be found on our Together Through This Test hub.

Finances

Why has the ECB taken the decision to provide two interim support packages – worth £61million and £35.7million - for the professional and recreational game? 

We are acutely aware of the concern felt throughout the game about the financial implications of the suspension of cricket because of the spread of COVID-19. 

These support packages were provided following robust and detailed planning with all levels of the game as we look to try and withstand the challenges faced during a period of extreme financial uncertainty. 

Will more support be available if the crisis continues for longer than expected? 

The financial support packages are for the remainder of the year and are still only the beginning of addressing the impact of this crisis on cricket. 

We will continue our extensive liaison with cricketing bodies at all levels of the game to assess the financial stability of the whole cricket network in England and Wales. 

We have previously announced cricket clubs and leagues are now able to apply to three new funding schemes specifically designed to help see them through the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Please follow this link for comprehensive information on the ECB Emergency Loan Scheme, the Return To Cricket Grant Scheme and the ECB League Emergency Loan Scheme. 

Will clubs and counties continue to be eligible for support from the Government and Sport England?

Yes. We expect that First-Class Counties and County Cricket Boards will utilise all available Government, Sport England and primary/secondary lender support options before needing our assistance.

We will liaise closely with First-Class Counties and County Cricket Boards to ensure they are receiving all the support to which they are entitled.

Why was it necessary to ask staff to take a pay cut, furlough, etc?

The measures were necessary to lower central costs and protect jobs in the long term as the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold.

This is the biggest challenge our sport has ever faced – the whole game is being impacted. We believe everyone has a part to play in supporting cricket’s survival.

These measures, combined with the announcement that we are providing a £61million interim package to all levels of cricket, are important to protect cricket and its people during this crisis.

How will these cost savings support the county and recreational game?

The measures, combined with the previous announcements that we are providing £96.7million support packages to all levels of cricket, are important to protect cricket and its people. 

We are aware the financial situation remains extremely challenging for many across cricket, so our support will be ongoing. We are working closely with the network to understand the challenges faced across the game and provide support. 

The Hundred

Is The Hundred still going ahead?

We have announced that the launch of The Hundred will take place in summer 2021. The Hundred has a vision to grow the game and is part of the ECB’s longer-term strategy to inspire a new generation to choose cricket. The 2021 launch will allow for the competition to be delivered as intended. 

Please visit this page for more information.

How can I get a refund?

Please visit the dedicated section for information on refunds for The Hundred.

Further support

For Government guidelines around COVID-19, please visit: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

For Government advice around financial support for businesses, please visit: www.gov.uk/government/collections/financial-support-for-businesses-during-coronavirus-covid-19

For information on Sport England funding and support packages, please visit: www.sportengland.org/news/coronavirus-information-sector

For information on Sport Wales’s Emergency Relief Fund, please visit: www.sport.wales/content-vault/emergency-relief-fund/

Find out more about the ECB’s funding and support packages here 

Current guidelines for returning to recreational cricket in England can be found here

Current guidelines for preparing your facilities ahead of a return to recreational cricket can be found here and here

For ECB’s latest guidelines to clubs regarding recreational cricket in Wales please click here

 

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