LONDON: English cricket chiefs are considering installing coronavirus checkpoints and isolation units at grounds in order to restart the game behind closed doors.

Last week the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced that no professional cricket would be played before May 28 at the earliest.

But the ECB is stepping up its planning for a potential resumption of international action with no spectators.

England’s Test series with West Indies is due to start at the Oval on 4 June. Australia and Pakistan are also due to tour during the English summer.

The ECB’s director of special projects Steve Elworthy told the Guardian that such an approach would essentially mean creating a “safe and sterile environment” at grounds.

“We’re mapping out what international matches would look like behind closed doors,” he said.

Referring to the British government’s initial advice prior to the current lockdown, he added: “The advice around mass gatherings was 500 people or fewer.

“That was guided by the potential impact on critical services like paramedics and doctors.

“You would likely have to work within that number [which would be made up of essential matchday staff]. Then you have to think about medical provisions, creating a safe and sterile environment around that venue, so that everyone who comes in is clear.

“So it’s how you test them at the gate, the isolation units that you have to put in. These are considerations we are thinking about.”

The International Cricket Council said on Friday that it was reviewing its options in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The men’s T20 World Cup is scheduled to start in Australia in October.

The inaugural World Test Championship final is due to take place at Lord’s next June, but with qualifying series being postponed and no certainty as to when they will be rescheduled, the showpiece match could be delayed.

“We continue to undertake a comprehensive business continuity and contingency planning exercise which will allow us to adapt to the rapidly evolving world in which we find ourselves,” ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney said on Friday.

“The ICC management will continue our contingency planning around ICC events and will also work with members to explore all options available to us based on a range of scenarios connected to the pandemic.”

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2020