A round-up of how the cricket community is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. Catch up on older newsfile entries here.

July 24

Three members of South Africa’s Women’s team and support staff have returned positive Covid-19 results after they were tested ahead of their training camp scheduled to commence on July 27. Overall, 34 individuals were tested, and those that tested positive showed mild to no symptoms, according to a Cricket South Africa media release.

They have been withdrawn from training, and will self-isolate for ten days, with the CSA medical team closely monitoring their condition. The rest of the group that returned negative results will assemble in Pretoria on July 26, a day before they partake in a week-long skills-based training camp. Then, they will return to their respective provinces for individual training from August 3 to 14.

There will be another round of testing for the squad and support staff ahead of a second training camp scheduled between August 16 and 27, in preparation for the proposed tour of England in September.

Spike in Covid-19 cases halts Zimbabwe training camp

Zimbabwe Cricket have decided to break their two ongoing camps in Bulawayo and Harare owing to a spike in Covid-19 cases across both cities. The training programmes had begun more than a month back with an eye on playing Afghanistan in a five-match T20I series. The Chronicle reported that the team’s communications manager Darlington Majonga has provided the senior men’s cricketers with regimes to follow at home.

Though the players had begun training, the team was still awaiting approval from the government to host Afghanistan between July and August. However, Zimbabwe now has over 2000 confirmed cases for Covid-19. Bulawayo is the epicentre of the pandemic in Zimbabwe with 593 cases, closely followed by Harare, which has reported 579 cases. But Majonga said that the board had written to the government for final dates for the series, as the “July to August timeline was just a tentative date”. “The dates for the tour will be determined by the government’s response. We wrote to government and are waiting for their response,” he said.

July 23

ICC postpones two more events

The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 which serves as a qualifying round for the 2023 Men’s World Cup, and the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup regional qualifier division 2 have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The League 2 was to be hosted by Namibia with Papua New Guinea and the United States joining the hosts, while the U-19 tournament was to be held in Tanzania from August 7 to 14, with Botswana​, Kenya​, Mozambique​, Rwanda​, and Sierra Leone joining the hosts.

“With ongoing international travel restrictions, global health concerns still prominent and on government and public health authority advice in relation to COVID-19 we have decided in partnership with Members, to postpone two further qualifying events,” Chris Tetley, the ICC’s head of events said.

In light of the postponement of the 2023 Men’s World Cup by about six months to allow space for qualification rounds, Tetley added: “We will now work with hosts and participating members to find a window where cricket can be safely and practically rescheduled. With this week’s ICC Board decision to hold the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in October and November of 2023, we now have been given additional time to work to reschedule the Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 postponed matches and enable us to preserve the integrity of the qualification process allowing it to take place on the field of play.”

The last of the League 2 matches took place in February, with matches scheduled for April cancelled as cricket came to a standstill due to the pandemic.

July 21

Boult returns to training

Trent Boult was back in training on day three of New Zealand’s camp for North Island-based players in Mount Maunganui. He had missed training on day two, as a precaution after feeling unwell. Back at the Bay Oval to train on turf along with seven of his team-mates, Boult said he was very keenly looking forward to getting the chance to play again.

“I think everyone just wants to get back playing some sort of cricket,” Boult said. “There are a few guys who are heading to the CPL, which hopefully will go ahead in the coming months, and then looks like the IPL will follow that. I think guys have been caged up for a few months now and are eager to get out and play some cricket.”

Boult is part of the Mumbai Indians squad for IPL 2020, which is now likely to take the slot left vacant by the postponed T20 World Cup.

Boult’s new-ball partner for New Zealand, Tim Southee, was also part of the training camp and said he’d consider travelling abroad to play cricket as he trusted all precautions would be taken to keep the players safe. “I think I would. I’d definitely be taking the right precautions to follow all the guidelines that are in place. I’m sure we won’t get sent somewhere where it’s not safe,” Southee said. “We’d all just have to be sensible, but I don’t have to make that decision at this stage and I’ll eagerly wait to see what unfolds over the next couple of months.”

July 10

Eden Gardens to be used as quarantine facility

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has turned Eden Gardens into a makeshift quarantine centre for Kolkata Police personnel. A request from the commissioner of police asked for blocks E, F, G, H and J, all with provision of a kitchen at the ground, to be provided “on a temporary basis free of cost” to Kolkata Police.

“It is our duty to help and support the administration in this hour of crisis,” CAB president Avishek Dalmiya said. “The quarantine facility would be used for police personnel who are Covid warriors. The under galleries which would be used at E, F, G, H and J Blocks would be properly segregated and secured from the balance areas.

Dalmiya also confirmed the arrangement agreed between Kolkata Police and CAB would ensure that areas used for cricket and administrative activities would remain unaffected.

July 6

CAB office shuts for a week after staff member tests positive

The Cricket Association of Bengal has shut its office for seven days after a non-permanent staff member of its civil engineering department tested positive for Covid-19.

“He is at present admitted at Charnock Hospital,” CAB president Avishek Dalmiya said in a statement. “Even though he had not come to CAB for a week, on the advice of eminent doctors in the Medical Committee, we have asked all to refrain from visiting the CAB office for the next seven days and during this period, extensive sanitizing will take place keeping all safety protocols in mind.

“Incidentally CAB has not opened formally and has been working sporadically with a skeleton staff essentially to meet certain statutory compliances and for clearing dues to various stakeholders.”

As on Monday, West Bengal has recorded 22136 cases of Covid-19 – 6668 of which are active – and 757 deaths. Kolkata is the state’s capital.

July 1

Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz to take PIA flight to England on July 3

Mohammad Hafeez and five of his team-mates who have returned two successive negative Covid-19 tests to become eligible to join the rest of the Pakistan squad in England will fly out to Manchester on July 3. Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz are the other five, who, along with Hafeez, will fly from Lahore on Pakistan International Airlines.

From Manchester, the six players will go to Worcester and integrate with the rest of the squad pending another round of testing by the ECB.

The six players, who had been tested twice in three days, all currently in isolation at a five-star hotel in Lahore.

Already, 18 squad players who returned two negatives as well as two reserve players – Musa Khan and wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir – are in Manchester for Pakistan’s tour, having flown out earlier on a chartered plane organised by the ECB. These six players could not fly out with the rest of the squad as they had initially tested positive for Covid-19, before testing negative on the retest; two negative results were required for the players to fly out to England.

June 22

As part of South Africa’s efforts to bring cricket back, CSA initiated mass testing of its personnel, seven of whom were revealed to be infected with Covid-19.

“We were definitely going to have people testing positive,” CSA’s acting CEO Jacques Faul told Sport24. “Having conducted over 100 tests, the number of seven is actually quite low.”

CSA would not mention if there were any players among those people who tested positive for the coronavirus. “Our medical ethical protocol does not allow us to share info that could ID people that have tested positive,” Faul said.

June 21

Indian Cricketers’ Association extends help to 60 cricketers’ families

A total of 57 former players, including six women and a blind cricketer, and the widows of three former players, have received between INR 60,000 (US$800 approx.) and INR 1 lakh ($1300 approx.) – a total of Rs 78 lakh ($102,300 approx.) – as part of the newly-formed Indian Cricketers’ Association’s financial assistance programme during the Covid-19 crisis.

“It’s a huge step, especially helping Mr Shekar Naik, the former captain of the Indian blind team, because that was not in our rules and regulations. But we thought that since the Indian government has honoured him and the BCCI has honoured him, why shouldn’t we,” Ashok Malhotra, the president of the association, told ESPNcricinfo. Naik led India to victories at the 2012 T20 World Cup for the blind and the 2014 World Cup for the blind.

Malhotra also confirmed that a number of former players, including Dilip Vengsarkar, Arun Lal and Balwinder Singh Sandhu, had made donations to help their needy colleagues. “Many other cricketers, some of them very famous, are coming forward with big and small amounts,” Malhotra said. “We have funds to help more people, and we are hoping to do that.”

So far, according to Malhotra, 2800 former players have signed up with the association, and “most of them have contributed” between Rs 1000 ($13 approx.) and Rs 5 lakh ($6600 approx.), the minimum and maximum donation amounts.

June 18

Sri Lanka want to be ‘best prepared team post Covid-19’

Sri Lanka want to be, in the words of head coach Mickey Arthur, “the best prepared international team post Covid-19 and to be ready to play at any given time” and to that end they are heading into a second training camp that starts on June 22.

An SLC press release on Thursday said 24 players and six support staff will take part in the 10-day camp. Sri Lanka had been preparing for a Test series against England when the coronavirus pandemic struck, forcing the world into lockdown. Since then the players have already been able to complete one training camp and are no gearing up for another, which will focus on their skills and their conditioning.

SL training squad: Dimuth Karunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Suranga Lakmal, Dhananjaya de Silva, Niroshan Dickwella, Dasun Shanaka, Vishwa Fernando, Kasun Rajitha, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Isuru Udana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Lakshan Sandakan, Lasith Embuldeniya, Oshada Fernando, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Bhanuka Rajapaksa

June 16

Zimbabwe players start training after testing negative

Zimbabwe have become the latest team to start training after Covid-19 fallout as all 37 selected players, as well as the coaching staff, were tested negative for coronavirus.

Due to lockdown restrictions in Zimbabwe, the training pool is split into small sub-groups that are practising within their provinces. On Monday, Bulawayo-based players kicked things off with a fitness test overseen by provincial coach Njabulo Ncube at the Queens Sports Club. The players will focus on strength and conditioning sessions for the first three weeks before switching to skills training.

Zimbabwe are supposed to host Afghanistan in July-August for a five-match T20I series before travelling to Australia to play three ODIs.

Training squad: Brian Chari, Christopher Mpofu, Ainsley Ndlovu, Charlton Tshuma, Sean Williams, Faraz Akram, Ryan Burl, Sikandar Raza, Chamunorwa Chibhabha, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Kyle Jarvis, Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, Neville Madziva, William Mashinge, Peter Joseph Moor, Brian Mudzinganyama, Ryan Murray, Brendan Taylor, Regis Chakabva, Luke Jongwe, Wessly Madhevere, Timycen Maruma, Wellington Masakadza, Prince Masvaure, Tapiwa Mufudza, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Richmond Mutumbami, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Brandon Mavuta, Carl Mumba, Tendai Chisoro, Tendai Chatara, Kevin Kasuza, Donald Tiripano

June 10

Zimbabwe players to undergo tests ahead of training

Zimbabwe’s players and support staff will undergo tests for Covid-19 ahead of their return to training on June 15. According to a media release from Zimbabwe Cricket, a squad of 33 players has been put together and only those who pass the medical tests will start training from Monday.

Zimbabwe are set to host Afghanistan and India for limited-overs series in July and August, subject to government approval.

The players will practice in their respective provinces starting with strength and conditioning sessions for the first three weeks before turning to cricket-specific skills training.

As per the ICC guidelines, the use of saliva will be prohibited and all players as well as Zimbabwe Cricket employees will be provided face masks and alcohol-based sanitisers.

June 7

Afghanistan to begin month-long training camp starting June 7Asghar Afghan, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mohammad Shahzad are among 22 players who are going to take part in a month-long training camp organised by the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) in Kabul starting Sunday.

The camp, an ACB release said, will be focused on “strengthening their batting, bowling and overall performance as part of their preparations for upcoming tournaments.

“This camp will be held under the relevant health guidelines and in close coordination with the ICC, WHO and the ministry of public health of Afghanistan to avoid the spread of COVID-19,” the release said.

On Saturday, the ACB held a Covid-19 awareness meeting for players and other relevant officials at the board’s head office to “educate them about the health guidelines to be maintained during the camp.”

Afghanistan were scheduled to tour Zimbabwe and play the Asia Cup in the second half of the year but both look uncertain now, and a one-off Test in Australia’s new summer schedule is now slotted for November 21 to 25 at the Perth Stadium.

Players participating in training camp: Asghar Afghan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Hazrathullah Zazai, Karim Janat, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Rashid Khan, Naveen ul Haq, Shapoor Zadran, Qais Ahmad, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Azmatullah Omerzai, Samiullah Shinwari, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Shahzad, Sayed Shirzad, Darwish Rasooli, Zahir Khan Paktin, Farid Malik, Hamza Hotak, Sharafudin Ashraf.

Kapil Dev, Murali Kartik to face off in golf fund-raiser

Former India captain Kapil Dev is set to square off against Murali Kartik, the former India left-arm spinner, in a Covid-19 golf fundraiser at the Delhi Golf Club course on July 11. The 18-hole Covid Relief Exhibition Golf Match will have Dev and Kartik, both regulars at several Pro-Am events during the season, partner Shubhankar Sharma, a two-time winner on the European Tour, and Gaganjeet Bhullar, winner of one European title and nine more on the Asian Tour, reported the Hindu.

June 6

Provisional approval for Cricket Ireland to start club training

Cricket Ireland has received provisional approval from sports and health authorities for club cricket to move a step closer to limited training in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However, restarting activity at club level is dependent on when the Irish government and the Northern Ireland executive plan their next phase of reopening, according to a release, and that the clubs undertake pre-opening protocol compliance measures. The board had made its submission to both the governments on May 22 seeking approval to restart activity.

“This means that Provincial Unions and clubs can actively progress their Covid-19 safety preparation work in anticipation of each Government’s progression to Phase 2 / Step 2 of respective roadmaps to reopening,” a board release said.

In the first stage, Cricket Ireland will make “information packs” and resources available to all clubs across the country starting next week which will include checklists and advice regarding training practices that comply with social distancing and health protocols. “Our priority from the outset was to take a safety-first approach – to ensure the health of players, coaches, volunteers and families,” Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland CEO, said.

“With this in mind, it’s important that we remind our club and grassroots family that the 20km radius rule still applies to club cricketers, and that the ability to restart training depends upon being able to comply with the protocols. We fully understand that it won’t feel like normal, and there will be more work than usual to implement and properly monitor hygiene protocols and social distancing, but we are sure everyone recognises their role in controlling the spread of the virus and protecting the vulnerable in our community.

“There will undoubtedly be some details still to resolve during implementation, but we will provide advice on issues as they arise. If we work together on meeting these protocols, then we can begin to look towards an eventual resumption of competitive matches later in the roadmap – a scenario that seemed very distant to many just a few weeks ago.”