Giles Claims The ECB Loosening the Covid-19 Protocol
Despite three players and four members of the support staff testing positive for the virus and the remainder of the ODI squad being forced to isolate as close contacts, Ashley Giles claims the ECB did not take a chance by loosening the COVID-19 regulations in place for the men’s team this summer.
England’s More Freedom
This summer, England’s players have had greater flexibility than the previous year, when they were limited to hotels within two stadiums, Emirates Old Trafford and Ageas Bowl, where all of the matches were held.
Although protocols were in place this summer, including regular testing, they were less stringent than they were last year as the ECB transitioned to a new type of protection.
“support the overall wellbeing of our players and management”. Tom Harrison said.
ECB Risk Assessment
The ECB undertook danger evaluations of the locations surrounding the hotels, and players were only permitted to work out in open spaces within a defined area. The team was also allowed to play golf at the Ageas Bowl, and certain players, such as Mark Wood, were allowed to bring their families along for a few days, albeit bio-security procedures were in place.
The squad’s activities have been severely restricted-they were not allowed to go out for coffee or eat at restaurants, for example-and restrictions have been tightened in the last two weeks as infections have spread across the country, but it has certainly been a less strict bio-secure environment than last year.
“This year we tried to operate in what we called ‘safe environments’,” Giles said. “Just from the nature of what we were doing this year, playing all around the country, traveling a lot, hotels weren’t sole use. We were sharing certain spaces within the hotel but not key areas like eating areas. And given this [delta] variant, which is clearly more infectious, the risk of us catching an infection in the group was obviously going to go up.
“I don’t believe we’ve gambled at all. We are fully aware of the risks – no one is more than us. That is the knife-edge we are working on all the time. As well as looking after our people and keeping them sane as much as anything, we’re protecting the revenues of the whole game. And it’s a really difficult balance to strike.
“It’s something we are constantly juggling with and we are certainly juggling with the amount of time our players have spent in these environments. We have extremely busy schedules and we’ve been doing this now for 14 or 15 months. To expect them to adhere in the sense they go to the ground, they stay away from each other, they go back to the hotel, they put their masks on and go straight back to their rooms, eat on their own – it’s almost impossible for that period of time without losing people.
“If we go back to the start of this summer, I think we always hoped we would move somewhat with society, as society started to open up. That was always the plan until the variant arrived. So actually what we had planned in terms of opening up, in terms of being much more accessible to families, eating outside, the normal freedoms other people are taking for granted right now, just didn’t happen.
“We had discussions about this as recent as the weekend with the players. That we still hoped for this to be the case – and then this happens. It’s a reminder to all of us what this can do to a sports team particularly right now. I guess we are sort of living at a different rate to society. We are almost misaligned, at odds with how society is operating. That is particularly difficult when we know one case can shut you down, let alone seven.”
“Even if we had the two originals we had yesterday morning if the PCRs [from the rest of the squad] had come back clear, then yes, we might have been able to treat this very differently but once it went to this number”
ECB Expects The Arrangements Remain Unchanged
The ECB expects the arrangements for Pakistan’s One-Day Internationals to remain unchanged. The second game of the series will be played in front of a sold-out crowd at Lord’s. The Pakistan Cricket Board said that they are “satisfied by the assurances and guarantees provided by the ECB” and “happy with the existing protocols that have been put in place” in a statement.