ICC proposes using local match officials and issuing saliva ban

The ICC Cricket Committee has proposed using local match officials during games and prohibiting the use of saliva to polish the ball in order to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Committee, chaired by Anil Kumble, sees the changes to the current ICC regulations as necessary to protect players and match-officials safely during the global pandemic. Whilst a specific date as to when cricket will return has not been announced, England’s test side has begun training ahead of a possible behind closed door test on 8 July.

ICC Cricket Committee Chair Kumble stated: “We are living through extraordinary times and the recommendations the Committee have made today are interim measures to enable us to safely resume cricket in a way that preserves the essence of our game whilst protecting everyone involved.”

During the conference call Dr Peter Harcourt, the chair of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee, advised that the use of saliva during a cricket match elevates the risk of transmitting the virus. However, the ICC saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat to polish the ball due it being highly unlikely to be transmitted.

Whilst not going into detail, the committee also discussed ‘enhanced hygiene measures’ that will be implemented on and around the playing field.

In order to combat the challenges caused by international travel and border restrictions, all men’s Test, ODI and T20I matches will be able to feature ICC officials based locally. Since 2002, all ICC appointed officials could not be from the same country as the participating teams. 

The appointments will continue to be via the ICC from a local Elite and International Panel of referees and umpires. Moreover, if there are no Elite Panel match officials available in the country then International Panel officials will be appointed. 

Another measure proposed by the Committee is the use of an additional DRS review per team per innings in order to combat the use of a wider pool of umpires during matches. 

The Committee will officially present the recommendations to the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee in early June for approval. Even if these precautions are passed in June, Cricket will not return to the UK until at least 1 July after the government announced its latest safety guidelines and lockdown procedures.

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