England cricketers set for training return

Ian McCullough
Jofra Archer and other English bowlers are able to start training next week under strict conditions

England's cricketers are set to return to training next week as the sport takes its first steps towards a possible resumption.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) say a carefully controlled plan designed to be in line with the UK government's guidance has been put in place, with venues across the country utilised for individual sessions.

Bowlers will begin their training programs on Monday and a fortnight later batsmen and wicketkeepers will follow suit.

All players will train individually on a staggered basis alongside a coach, physio and conditioning coach.

Each individual will observe strict social distancing, hygiene and temperature testing protocols.

Temperatures of players and staff will be taken before they will be allowed to train and physios will have to wear personal protective equipment to treat injuries.

The English county season was supposed to get underway on April 12 but due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has halted sport around the world, it was pushed forward to July 1 with the much-vaunted Hundred tournament postponed until 2021.

The West Indies were slated to play three Tests from June 4 but discussions are underway about the matches being played behind closed doors at venues that have hotels on site later this summer.

Australia are due to play three ODI and three T20 matches from July 3, but that three-week tour will almost certainly be scrapped or rearranged for later in the year - possibly September.

But managing director of English men's cricket Ashley Giles admits there is no guarantee any cricket will be played in England in 2020.

"These are the first steps for players return to training ahead of international cricket potentially resuming later this (northern) summer," Giles said.

"The safety of players, staff and our community is our first priority throughout this protocol.

"We are committed to adhering to public health guidelines and Government directives intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"To be clear, we will only train and potentially play cricket behind closed doors if we know it is absolutely safe to do so and is fully supported by the government."