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ECB Chief insists No strict bio-bubbles for Series

Despite the growing impact of positive COVID cases and close contact isolation on English cricket, the ECB’s chief executive, Tom Harrison, has stated that the governing body will not reimpose tight bio-secure bubbles for the upcoming India Test series.

England’s New Covid-19 Cases

The number of cases in England has surged dramatically in recent weeks as the country’s regulations have been lifted. Yesterday (July14), there were 42,302 confirmed cases. In addition, the NHS Track and Trace app ‘pinged’ almost 520,000 people as close contacts of people who tested positive in the week leading up to July 7th.

Despite the increased number of cases and the impact it has already had on international and domestic cricket, Harrison believes the ECB will not reimpose the tight bio-secure bubble restrictions that were in place last summer, which severely limited the movement and freedoms of England’s players.

“We’re in a different scenario to 12 months ago or even six months ago really with respect to how we cope with Covid,” Harrison said. “We’re really trying to learn how we live with it and create safe environments for people as opposed to bio-secure environments.

There’s a huge difference between the two. Players are just fed up with bio-security and bubbles and that language we have become so used to using. It’s had such a detrimental impact on mental health for players, time away from families. We are just not able to operate that kind of environment going forward.

“We have to learn to cope with Covid. We’re going to be living with it now for the foreseeable future so mitigation is the word as opposed to prevention. We think we’ve built in enough protocols now just to try and mitigate the impact of frankly inevitable infections. I think that is where we are trying to ensure that we don’t have instances where entire squads are taken out of circulation because of one or two local infections.

So we’re working very hard to make sure those protocols are in place for the remainder of the season. We’ve communicated these protocols to the various camps and various teams and also the international and county environment.”

“We try to work with players to ensure that we can cope with this exceptionally high pressured environment where performance meets health. We have to get that right because if you don’t you lose players. You want them turning up for these ‘most important series’ feeling fantastic about the opportunity to play for their country, or for their team or their teammates.

“You’re not going to do that if they forget the reason why they play. You’ve got to listen to what they’re telling us. Through this pandemic, it’s been very clear to most boards around the world that we need to listen more to the voice of the players. They’ve got lives too and in some cases very young families that they have been pulled apart from for very long periods of time.

I’m afraid there comes a point where it’s no longer an acceptable answer ‘once more into the breach my friends. I don’t believe that is an acceptable place for responsible employers to continue to go. It’s about balance.”

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