London: England players could tentatively start their outdoor skill-based training in the coming weeks with the ECB eyeing resumption of international cricket with a series against West Indies in July, said its director of cricket Ashley Giles.
However, as per health directive issued by government wing, the players — across all sports in the UK — will have an option to "opt out" of training if they have any apprehensions of health risk.
"These are the very first tentative steps back to playing cricket," Giles was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo, indicating that it could be done in a controlled environment.
"This is individual-based training, so in many ways, we should be able to get control of the environment so it's safer to go back to practice than it is to go to the supermarket. It should be that controlled an environment."
However, as per protocols issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), players will have an option.
"All athletes and support staff should be engaged in a 1:1 check-in prior to the resumption of organised step one training to ensure they have understood the sport-specific risks and mitigations, training site protocols in place, are physically and mentally well enough to engage in return to training and have actively 'opted in' to engaging in step one return to training," the document stated.
"It will be for individual sports to agree with their athletes any conditions for their return. All athletes and staff should also be clear on their route to 'opt out' of the organised training environment under Step One conditions at any time without unreasonable steps being taken against them consequently."
Even the ECB Director agreed that they have to create an environment where the West Indies and Pakistan both feel safe while travelling to the United Kingdom.
"It can be quite scary but we are doing everything we possibly can to answer all of the West Indies' questions. We will be speaking to Pakistan as well and mitigate as much risk as we possibly can. We can't mitigate all risk but as much as possible to get guys comfortable."
However, Giles assured that a complete risk assessment would be done before taking the plunge.
"We are also outside where we know the risks are far less. We will certainly carry out the right risk assessments at the venues. We will make sure all the staff are trained and that we have the right equipment, including PPE [personal protective equipment]. We will make sure everything is there for the guys to go about their business as safely as possible."
"Would I be confident if I were a West Indies player? I would be nervous, certainly, but we are all nervous, aren't we? I'm not making light of this but there are risks every time you go outside the house. We need to mitigate as many of the risks as we possibly can."
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