As the world combats the coronavirus pandemic, several sporting events were halted and sporting calendar was shattered. In cricket, the last international match was played on March 13 when Australia and New Zealand revived their Trans-Tasman rivalry behind closed doors at the Sydney Cricket Ground. However, with more relaxed restrictions, the return of international cricket looks underway.
Earlier this week, players from several top teams, including England and Australia, were reportedly started outdoor trainings with strict safety measures in place. Among the international cricket that hinted their return is the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), announcing their schedule of a three-Test series against West Indies.
The proposed series, subject to government approval, is slated to begin on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton followed by Tests at Old Trafford in Manchester on July 16 and 24. All three Tests will be staged behind closed doors, with players and officials staying at on-site hotels in biosecure conditions. The series was originally scheduled between June 4-29 with matches in Birmingham and London.
“Our main objective is to deliver a safe environment for all stakeholders including players, match officials, operational staff, essential venue staff, broadcasters and media,” ECB director of events Steve Elworthy. “These are our proposed dates and they remain subject to U.K. government approval.” England and West Indies players have returned to training according to reports.
Sri Lanka have begun their training camp at the CCC Ground in Colombo with safety protocols in place. Previously, the Sri Lanka Cricket had written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offering to host India in a 3-match ODI and 3-match T20I series in July end. They also offered to host BCCI’s cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL).
Speaking of the IPL, the government of India has announced fresh set of guidelines issued by the home ministry that gives the BCCI hopes to start the cash-rich league as the guidelines for reopening of activities in three phases seem to hint resumption of sporting activities. However, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly has confirmed no official discussion has taken place regarding the schedule of the league.
In Australia, the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc reported for New South Wales pre-season training camp at the Sydney Olympic Park. Australia are scheduled to open their home season against Afghanistan in a one-off Test in August. However, the fate of T20 World Cup in the country remains in jeopardy as travel restrictions are extended.
Last month, professional cricket returns for the first time since March in Caribbean as St Vincent and Grenadines Cricket Association (SVGCA) has announced the start of their very own franchise-based T10 league – the Vincy Premier League (VPL). This event resumes competitive cricket involving international players of a Full Member team, with 72 players were drafted.
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