Cricket rivals unite on biosecurity plans

Rob Forsaith
CA sports science boss Alex Kountouris is working with rival nations in planning a return to play

Leading cricket medicos from around the world have united to help advance biosecurity plans that will allow the sport to resume after the health crisis.

Alex Kountouris has been involved in the game since 1995, first as physiotherapist of Sri Lanka's national team before returning home to work for Cricket Australia.

CA's head of sports science Kountouris suggested he has never dealt with anything as complex as mapping a path out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kountouris and much-respected sports doctor John Orchard, CA's chief medical officer who contributed to the recently-released AIS framework for rebooting sport, have been working overtime to draw up various plans for coming months.

The stakes are high; England's cricket board has outlined how a wiped-out 2020 season could cost stg380 million.

CA chief Kevin Roberts continued to paint a grim picture of the sport's financial crisis during a video call with staff on Wednesday, although the players' union contacted members on the same day advising cricket's financial position remained "very positive relative to Australia's winter sports".

Kountouris is optimistic CA may be able to resume matches without needing state-government exemptions that have underpinned the NRL and AFL's road to a restart.

The next commitment for Justin Langer's team is a tour of England in July but there is growing expectation that could be shifted to September, giving it the best possible chance of proceeding.

"It'll depend on the stage of the virus ... we'll be guided by government and it's a bit too early to say," Kountouris told AAP of the scheduled series.

"The first part is getting the sign off from government that we can travel and return ... then from a biosecurity perspective, just seeing what they've got in place and where they're at.

"But I'd be very confident we're all going to have the same stuff. There's that much information being shared.

"At the moment we want to get training up, that's our priority."

Orchard and Kountouris are liaising with government, counterparts at other Australian sporting organisations plus cricket medical representatives from other boards.

"There's a sub-committee within the ICC (International Cricket Council). Everyone is sharing information and collaborating, we're all working together," Kountouris said.

"We usually get together every three months but we've just been meeting more regularly to discuss what is common and learn from each other ... discuss how we can best share information and not be duplicating."

One obvious in-game issue is shining the ball.

There is speculation the ICC could essentially legalise ball-tampering whenever play resumes.

AIS guidelines dictate that even at Level C of activity, when most sports are allowed full training and competition, that shining a cricket ball with sweat or saliva will be outlawed.

"From a training perspective to start with, we're going to say 'don't do that', but when it comes to playing games that will be an ICC decision," Kountouris said.