Glouces­ter­shire home game with Northants is first Covid-19 ca­su­alty

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Cricket - By Jeremy Wil­son

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

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