Once bitten twice shy. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided not to take any chances as it prepares to resume the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next month. India’s premier T20 league was suspended in May because a few players and support staff tested positive for COVID.
The BCCI is likely to allow fans in the upper stands of the stadium, which will require the ball to be either sanitised or replaced before it is returned to players. To make sure the bio bubble is not breached, the fourth umpire will immediately replace the ball if it goes into the stands or outside the stadium.
“If the cricket ball goes in the stands or outside the stadium, the fourth umpire will provide a replacement from the library of cricket balls. The previous ball when returned will be sanitized with alcohol-based wipes and/or UV-C by the fourth umpire and placed in the library,” The Indian Express reported quoting the BCCI circular.
While contact with ball is unlikely to spread COVID, the board clearly doesn’t want to take any chances. Besides, spitting and clearing nasal congestion is strictly prohibited on the ground except in washrooms.
The 12th man will carry drinks to the field, but each player has to use his own bottle to avoid contact due to sharing.
Indian players, currently in England, can shift from bio bubble to bio bubble, provided they follow the protocol set by the BCCI. But other players joining their respective IPL teams will still have to be isolated for six days and undergo three RT-PCR tests before they are allowed to mingle with other players.
Commentators as well as broadcast crew will have to remain in their respective bio-secure environments and will be transported securely to their facility in Dubai without having to go through immigration at the airport.
Cricketers who wish to visit golf course will be allowed to do so after required conditions are fulfilled. Nobody else will be allowed at the golf course in the presence of IPL players. However, the players won’t be allowed to use any other amenities at the golf course like bar or restaurant.
If a fan breaches the safety perimeter and enters the ground besides touching a player, the concerned player will be required to change his clothes and get them washed separately. Besides, the player will be required to wash his hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before he rejoins his teammates inside the bubble.
The IPL was suspended in May after several players and support staff testing positive for COVID. It will now resume on September 19, just five days after the scheduled end of India’s Test tour of England. The IPL final will be played in Dubai on October 15, two days before the T20 World Cup begins, also in the UAE.