Gloucestershire home game with Northants is first Covid-19 casualty
Northamptonshire’s match against Gloucestershire in the Bob Willis Trophy yesterday became the first professional sports event to be abandoned midway through due to the Covid-19 pandemic. On the first morning of a scheduled four days at the Bristol County Ground, the match was initially interrupted so that the umpires, captains and match referee could be informed that a non-travelling member of the Northamptonshire squad had received a positive Covid-19 test.
The player, who has not been named by Northamptonshire, had first experienced symptoms on Thursday before notifying the club’s medical staff, arranging for a Covid-19 test and self-isolating.
He had already been withdrawn from the provisional squad as a precaution, with the result of his positive test coming through at 11.30am yesterday, shortly after play had started.
Northamptonshire removed a player who they knew had been in close contact the previous Tuesday and, after future checks, decided at lunchtime that a second player would also need to be withdrawn.
The situation was then discussed between the two counties and, with the remaining Northamptonshire players and coaching staff having been due to stay in Bristol for three nights, a decision was jointly taken to abandon the match.
The counties are due to meet again on Friday at Wantage Road in Northampton in the T20 Blast and there is confidence that this match can go ahead safely. Only two of the Northamptonshire players who started the Gloucestershire game – captain Ricardo Vasconcelos and Saif Zaib – featured in the previous match against Glamorgan and the county always intended to continue with a largely separate squad.
Those players in the squad who were deemed close contacts of the player who tested positive will now have their own tests, while voluntary tests will be offered to the rest.
Northamptonshire are confident they and the player followed all the correct medical protocols and have stressed the “close contact” incidents happened only in the 48 hours before Thursday.
The England and Wales Cricket Board supported how the situation had been handled and there was confidence that no players from Gloucestershire, or indeed anyone outside the players’ “bubble” at Northamptonshire, had been exposed to any risk. The game was formally called off just before 3pm, at which point Northamptonshire had reduced Gloucestershire to 66 for six.
There have been no discussions yet about whether the match will be replayed or if the points will be shared. Neither team can qualify for the final.
A joint statement said that both counties and the ECB were “unified
in the belief that player welfare is paramount and that no risks should be taken with the health and safety of the players, officials and administrators involved in this match”.
The Northamptonshire squad travelled back from Bristol following the abandonment.
Umpire Jeremy Lloyds had earlier received a guard of honour from both teams ahead of his last match in a 41-year career, which included more than a decade as a player with Somerset and Gloucestershire.
He went on to umpire in five Tests, 18 one-day internationals and England’s inaugural T20 international against Australia in 2005.
Endgame: Action at the County Ground, Bristol, had to be halted