Play­ers banned from pubs un­der new rules for county matches

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Scyld Berry CHIEF CRICKET WRITER

All county crick­eters have had to sign an opt-in let­ter gov­ern­ing their be­hav­iour on and off the field ahead of the start to­mor­row of the Bob Wil­lis Tro­phy, which re­places the County Cham­pi­onship.

One of the main rules, The Daily Tele­graph un­der­stands, is that play­ers will not be al­lowed to visit pubs dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, which will con­sist of five four-day matches per county. While Covid test­ing was car­ried out on England’s Test play­ers dur­ing their se­ries against West Indies, it will not be done on county play­ers – only daily symp­tom and tem­per­a­ture checks.

Re­search shows that in the month to March 23, based on 13 first-class coun­ties, there were 21 cases and all were com­mu­nity-ac­quired, none through train­ing and play­ing.

Play­ers will travel by team bus, with the driver wear­ing per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment, when­ever pos­si­ble, to matches in the new com­pe­ti­tion. Oth­er­wise, it will be one player per car.

With the Govern­ment due to re­lax re­stric­tions on sport­ing crowds from Oct 1, the England and Wales Cricket Board hopes a large crowd will be per­mit­ted to at­tend the fi­nal of the Bob Wil­lis Tro­phy at the start of Oc­to­ber. The fix­ture list has been ar­ranged in ge­o­graph­i­cal groups to min­imise travel and nights away.

The host county will ad­vise the vis­i­tors on where they should stay – whether ho­tels, where a floor will be cor­doned off for each team with no ho­tel clean­ers or other staff al­lowed dur­ing the game, or pri­vate schools, which can be deep-cleaned.

In two pi­lot games, the Oval wel­comed 21 per cent of nor­mal ca­pac­ity (al­ter­nate rows and two seats be­tween each household), and Edg­bas­ton 15 per cent, with greater so­cial dis­tanc­ing. The Oval will be al­lowed to ac­com­mo­date 2,500 spec­ta­tors to­mor­row and Sun­day for Sur­rey’s game against Mid­dle­sex. The same num­ber will be at Edg­bas­ton for War­wick­shire against Northamp­ton­shire.

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