Quarantine protocols will not be easy

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The world now can sense the return of cricket following the coronavirus pandemic that had halted proceedings since March. Top-level cricket already returned at Old Trafford on June 23 when the visiting West Indies played an intra-squad warm-up match ahead of their three-Test series against England, scheduled to start from July 8. Pakistan, who are due to play three Tests followed by as many T20I against England in August, have already reached the country and are currently undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine before playing intra-squad practice matches. Even Sri Lanka had resumed training earlier in June.

However, the current coronavirus situation in the country — with new cases being registered everyday — makes BCB’s task much more difficult than others who were able to resume training activities.

The recommendations from health experts are going to be key in BCB beginning to move into gear. Asked if residential camps for a few hand-picked national cricketers are possible, BCB chief physician Debashish Chowdhury reminded that there are a few challenges to that end.

“First of all, we need to observe what the other teams are doing in the camps and also follow the ICC-provided guideline. If we talk about conducting a residential camp, we have to first take the coronavirus test for not just all the players but also the support staff. After that, they will be isolated. So, the question is whether we keep them in hotels, in the BCB academy or outside Dhaka. If we keep them in the academy then there will be a question of providing food which is difficult compared to staying at a hotel,” BCB chief physician Debashish explained the things that the board needs to ponder if they opt for such camps.

There are basic protocols that will need to adhere to in order to ensure the safety of the whole group.

Such strict measures in England’s camp for the West Indies series led English cricketer Mark Wood to feel like being in a ‘sci-fi movie’.

“Suppose we plan for a 21-day camp we must make sure the players can’t go outside the room after training which is mentally exhausting and even if they go outside, they can join only after completing the 14-day quarantine,” Debashish said.

Even considering the mental toll of being in a controlled environment, it certainly would benefit cricketers in getting some skills training and match practice — the likes of which they have been away from since the enforced break. However, Debashish pondered whether the risk will be worth it.

“Now the question is if we take this chance is it worthwhile if there is no tournament in the near future? According to the trainers, they can prepare the players to get the match fitness by 21 days as they are already working on their fitness from home and we assume they are now at 70 per cent. We are open and explained everything to the BCB as the board will take the decision,” said Debashish.

The onus will be on BCB to lay out the protocols for a steady and safe return while ensuring that they are abided by.

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