Around 18 bowlers will begin training at seven venues on Thursday as part of the ECB’s stage one plans under the government’s elite sport return guidance.
Players will take part in individualised training across the county grounds of Somerset, Warwickshire, Lancashire, Durham, Surrey, Nottinghamshire and Sussex. All venues will likely stage at least one session this week and then a full roll out across venues from next week. Sessions were due to begin on Wednesday but were delayed to ensure all the correct safety measures were in place.
The focus is on red ball bowlers ahead of a Test series on West Indies, pending travel issues and guarantees over safety, which could begin as early as 8 July. As such, the group will be made up of those who have recently been in England Test and Lions squads.
Given the locations to be used, they are likely to be Dom Bess, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Lewis Gregory, Chris Woakes, Olly Stone, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Saqib Mahmood, Matt Parkinson, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Amar Virdi, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Ollie Robinson. While the ECB are reticent to refer to the training groups as “squads”, there will be absentees who will take omissions personally.
Initially, those in individual training will only have their temperature checked because of social distancing restrictions, though that will become more stringent for both players and management once training advances to small groups. For the rest of this week, a physio will be in attendance at each venue, with ECB and select county coaches joining from next week.
Under the guidelines for this training, all in attendance will have to wash their hands regularly and maintain a minimum if two metres physical and social distancing. For venues with multiple participants, training times will be staggered.
Disinfectant wipes will be provided to clean equipment – including mobile phones – and players will have to bring their own kit, including assigned cricket balls. They will also arrive in training gear, ready to begin practice.
At first they will bowl into an empty net and make sure to pick up their own ball. No saliva or sweat is to be used on the ball.
Coaches, too, will need to use their own equipment, such as baseball mitts to receive balls. The other hand, usually free, will have to be protected with a disposable glove. Mitts and other equipment will also be cleaned.
The ECB also confirmed batsmen and wicketkeepers will return to action from 1 June, again with a coach and physio on hand. These will take place across additional venues across the country which will be announced in due course.