The status of the next set of ICC board meetings is in doubt due to travel restrictions emanating from the coronavirus epidemic that has disrupted movements across the globe. The ICC meetings were scheduled to be held over the March 26-29 weekend in Dubai and is an important one, given that the ICC management wants to get on with the bidding process it has drafted for global events in the 2023-31 cycle of the Future Tours Programme.
Not everyone is on the same page as the ICC, however, with the BCCI, ECB and several other boards wary of adding extra ICC events into the next cycle, which would eat into their bilateral calendar. Although the events were approved by the ICC Board last October, the BCCI and ECB have since raised strong objections and now want to re-open consultations on the additional events before moving ahead on the bidding process. Also on the agenda are finalising the playing conditions for the ODI League which will start in May 2021.
But the impact of the coronavirus in the UAE, where a number of sporting events have either been cancelled or played behind closed doors, and schools have been shut, means that the ICC, as well as its members, are monitoring and reviewing the status of those meetings. The UAE has also put in place travel restrictions on individuals traveling in from certain countries.
A final decision is expected either tomorrow, or next week but alternative options could include postponement or video conferences.
Can’t avoid fans but can avoid going ‘much closer’ to them – Bhuveshwar Kumar
On the eve of the ODI series opener between India and South Africa in Dharamsala, visiting captain Quinton de Kock and the returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar touched upon the precautions that the two teams have taken amid fears of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra has made the trip with the team, and Kumar said that India’s team doctor is also making sure the players are fit and healthy.
“A few dos and don’ts he [the doctor] has asked us to do: simple things like hygiene, keep washing your hands and when it comes to going closer to the fans and all those things, you cannot avoid because they love us, support us,” Kumar said. “In the meantime, we can try to be and not say no to them but we can choose not to go much closer to going into the public, so we can avoid as much as we can and keep wearing masks and gloves and all those things.”
When asked if India will still go ahead and shine the ball with the saliva, Kumar said, “We have thought about this thing [not using saliva] but I can’t say right now we will not use saliva because if we don’t use saliva then how will we shine the ball. Then we will get hit and you people will say you are not bowling [well].”
As for de Kock, he said that South Africa won’t mind using their saliva to shine the ball. “We’ve been tested [for coronavirus] on our way in here, but think we will still shine the ball,” he said. Our team doctors and management have made sure all are fit and don’t have coronavirus. So, we will tend to that and will keep the ball shining.”
BCCI releases list of precautions for India to follow
The Indian board on March 11 shared a list of precautions for India, the visitors South Africa and for the general public who will watch the ODI series.
All public toilets at match venues will be “stocked with hand wash liquids and sanitizers” while medical staff and first aiders at the ground will keep a track of those feeling unwell on match day. Apart from that, the Indian team management has been educated on the standard healthcare guidelines including “washing hands with soap for 20 seconds” and “covering mouth while sneezing or coughing.”
The management has also been told not to indulge in selfie opportunities, interactions and eating out at restaurants “where hygiene standards are unknown.” They have also been told to inform the medical team immediately if they feel unwell. Hotels and airlines that will be used by the players during the series have also been issued a mandate to sanitise their surroundings.
The global spread of the coronavirus has claimed another international sporting fixture with the Bangladesh Cricket Board postponing the World XI v Asia XI matches that would have marked the birthday celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, referred to as father of the nation.
These matches were scheduled to take place on March 21 and 22 in Dhaka and were set to include a variety of superstars including Virat Kohli, Lasith Malinga and Chris Gayle, but the BCB president Nazmul Hasan announced on Wednesday that they had been “deferred” until further notice”.
England’s cricket team will refrain from taking selfies with fans and limit public engagements on their tour of Sri Lanka amid the global Coronavirus outbreak.
The team also asked “all supporters joining the tour to maintain good levels of hygiene” as advised by the World Health Organisation Britain’s National Health Service to avoid possible infection and spreading of illness in a statement released by the ECB on Wednesday.
“Following the world health agency’s advice, and in order to protect the players and, in turn, the integrity and continuation of the Sri Lanka Test tour, the team has put in place several precautions, leading to a number of normal activities being cancelled for the foreseeable future,” the statement said.
“England players and staff have been asked to avoid any unnecessary public engagements, and temporarily avoid casual supporter interaction such as selfies or autographs. Whilst we acknowledge that this will be disappointing for some supporters, we stress that this a measure to protect the ongoing wellbeing of the England Test squad and is a decision which has not been taken lightly.”
England players and staff will continue to replace handshakes with fist bumps in an attempt to minimise contact.
The PCB has confirmed that the PSL matches in Karachi will go ahead as scheduled amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak.
“In this background, we are satisfied with the feedback the Sindh government has provided and the support it has assured,” a PCB statement said. “At the same time, the PCB has promised the Sindh government that it will work very closely with its commercial partner and support wherever it can to assist in the health and safety of the spectators.
“The PCB now looks forward to a strong turnaround at the Karachi matches as the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 enters a critical phase with five of the six sides fighting for places in the play-offs.”
According to reports, there have been 16 cases of the virus in Pakistan so far, with nine new cases identified in Karachi.
Asia XI v World XI: BCCI to review situation in Dhaka
The coronavirus threat has cast doubts over the two-match T20I series between an Asia XI and a World XI in Dhaka, planned as part of the birth centenary celebrations of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation of Bangladesh.
Six Indians, including Virat Kohli, are expected to play a part in the tournament, and the BCCI is adopting a wait-and-watch policy on the matter.
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has been quoted by the New Indian Express as saying: “Players from western countries are also scheduled to participate. With regard to our players’ participation, we’ll review the situation and take a call accordingly. In my knowledge and as of now, the Bangladesh Cricket Board has not officially intimated the BCCI in this regard. Anyway, whoever is dealing with the issue must be keeping a close watch on the developments.”
Worcestershire cancel pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi
English county club Worcestershire have decided to cancel their planned pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi after weighing up the risks associated with Coronavirus.
Having concluded our own internal risk assessment, following the outbreak of COVID-19, we can confirm the squad will not be going on pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi
— Worcestershire CCC (@WorcsCCC) March 11, 2020
South Africa and India are likely to avoid shaking hands with each other during their three-match ODI series, which starts on Thursday, and will exchange fist bumps instead as a precaution against COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). The 11-day tour is going ahead after CSA conducted an expert assessment of the risk of traveling given the growing number of global coronavirus infections, and deemed it safe for the team to transit through New Dubai and Delhi and play in Dharamsala, Lucknow and Kolkata. The team has been briefed on precautionary measures and CSA’s chief medical officer, Dr Shuaib Manjra, will be traveling with the team.
Other than the lack of handshakes – which will also be the case for England in Sri Lanka – South Africa have not been given any other specific instructions. They will continue to interact with fans and have even taken some photographs with them, including selfies. – Firdose Moonda
The BCB has restricted the sale of tickets – one per person – for the first T20I between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, to be played later today in Dhaka, in a bid to “discourage public gathering” following concerns about the spread of COVID-19. With one person being sold only one ticket, the target is to keep the crowd to one-fifth of the capacity at the 25,000-seater Shere Bangla National Stadium.
South Africa’s tour of India for three ODIs will go ahead after the organisation completed a risk assessment regarding the spread of COVID-19 across the world. While South Africa reported its first confirmed case of the virus on Thursday, India’s health ministry has estimated infections are affecting around 30 people. But a team of experts have deemed the country and the team’s transit routes safe for travel. CSA’s chief medical officer Dr Shuaib Manjra will make the trip with the team.
The Everest Premier League, Nepal’s foremost franchise T20 tournament, has been postponed following a government directive to refrain from mass gatherings amid fears about the transmission of COVID-19.
England’s players will not be shaking hands with one another on their tour to Sri Lanka, captain Joe Root has revealed, using “the well-established fist bump” as a greeting instead.