Bowlers require minimum two months’ preparation to play Tests – ICC

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India's Jasprit Bumrah in action v New Zealand Second Test - Hagley Oval, Christchurch, New Zealand - March 2, 2020. (REUTERS/Martin Hunter)

MUMBAI, India (Reuters) – Bowlers looking at resuming Test cricket after the novel coronavirus lockdown will require two to three months of preparation to avoid injuring themselves, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has said.

Cricket, like other global sports, has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but some countries are plotting guidelines for the return of the game as governments start easing lockdown restrictions.

England players returned to individual skill-based training this week with the country hoping to begin their delayed summer of cricket with a Test series against West Indies in July.

Pakistan are scheduled to tour England to play three Tests in August followed by an equal number of Twenty20 Internationals, with the matches taking place behind closed doors as part of measures to combat COVID-19.

“Bowlers are at a particularly high risk of injury on return to play after a period of enforced time-out,” the world governing body ICC said in its back-to-cricket guidelines released late on Friday.

The ICC advised teams to use larger squads and exercise caution over bowlers’ workloads, saying Test cricket would require a minimum of eight to 12 weeks of preparation with the final four-five weeks involving match intensity bowling.
Preparation time of six weeks was recommended for bowlers returning to the shorter 50-over and Twenty20 internationals.

The ICC advised its member boards to consider appointing a medical advisor or bio-safety official to help with planning for a safe return to training and competition.
The Dubai-based ICC this week announced a ban on using saliva to shine a cricket ball to try and achieve the fabled ‘reverse swing’.

Players and umpires would need to maintain social distancing and cricketers must avoid unnecessary body contact and not hand over items like cap, towels, sunglasses to umpires or team mates, the ICC said.