Daily temperature checks and biosecure county grounds: inside the England cricket team's 'bubble'

Nick Hoult
·4 min read
England coronavirus cricket sticker - GETTY
England coronavirus cricket sticker - GETTY

Thirty England cricketers and about 15 support staff will undergo tests for Covid-19 on Tuesday as they start lockdown life in a biosecure bubble before the Test series against the West Indies.

They will all receive tests when they arrive at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday morning. The players will then have to isolate individually in their rooms until the results come back, which is expected to take 24 hours. 

Once the results are back, and if they test negative, the players will have a team meeting, probably on Wednesday evening, before starting training on Thursday.

England’s only warm-up match, a three-day game between the players, starts on July 1. West Indies, who have been in training together for two weeks, step up their preparations on Tuesday with their first practice match since arriving in Manchester. The England Test squad, of about 20 players, will be picked after their practice match.

The players will remain in the biosecure bubble for at least five five weeks, until the West Indies series ends on July 28. It is likely they will be able to go home and visit their families for a couple of days before re-entering the biosecure bubble for the Pakistan series.

When the players travel to Manchester for the second and third West Indies Tests they will have to drive individually in their own vehicles. A county ground will be open on the route, possibly Edgbaston or Derby, for them to stop and have lunch in a biosecure environment that has been deep cleaned in preparation for their arrival.

The West Indies team will travel from their current base at Emirates Old Trafford to the Ageas Bowl for the first Test in three buses to maintain social distancing and will also stop at county grounds, rather than service stations, on the way for refreshments. 

Officials from the ECB visited the Ageas Bowl on Friday to put the finishing touches to the signage and one way system around the ground and hotel where the players will be staying. 

The ground will be split into three zones. Zone One for players and match officials, Zone two, called the inner zone, will be for groundstaff and media, with zone three, the outer zone, containing the broadcast compound. A medical screening and testing facility will be outside the ground and all will have to pass through it before being allowed access to the venue. To move between zones clearance will have to be given by the venue medical manager. 

Daily temperature checks and health screening will take place for those entering the ground or the hotels at the Ageas Bowl or Emirates Old Trafford. Those in lockdown will be allowed to leave the ground for exercise once a day, which means the players will be allowed to use the golf course at the Ageas Bowl. A golf and driving simulator has also been installed to alleviate boredom on non-match days. Non-playing staff will be split into "contact cluster" groups so they can socialise together. Rooms will not be cleaned daily and there will be no room service, with the players instead dining in reserved areas.

 Social distancing signage displayed in the broadcaster's dining area
Social distancing signage displayed in the broadcaster's dining area

The England support staff will be led by head coach Chris Silverwood, preparing for his first home summer in charge of the side and looking to build on the win in South Africa.

England have not filled the bowling coach role, left vacant by Silverwood’s promotion, but Lancashire’s head coach Glen Chapple will take on the role as county staff are asked to help out.

England had been planning not to fill the role permanently, believing Silverwood could combine his two jobs, and were instead looking to appoint a full-time spin bowling coach for the first time, to help nurture the next generation of slow bowlers, as well as prepare for a five-Test tour to India this winter. 

Jeetan Patel worked with the team last winter and made a very positive impression but is seeing out his final year of his playing contract at Warwickshire. He remains the long-term favourite for the job but Gloucestershire’s Richard Dawson, who led the Lions tour last winter, will go into the biosecure bubble at the Ageas Bowl to work with the spinners.

Cricket Nerd REFERRAL (article)
Cricket Nerd REFERRAL (article)