London, June 24 (IANS) Ashley Giles, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, has said the team’s return to group training at The Ageas Bowl will be serious business with stringent social distancing norms in place and that it won’t be a holiday for all of them.
England take on the West Indies in a three-match Test series starting next month. A 30-man party has assembled at the Southampton venue, where they will live on-site and prepare.
“There could be opportunities for guys to play golf on the course next door but apart from that, there are two sessions of cricket a day, so there is going to be a lot of work,” Giles told reporters on a conference call, with England’s players due to train in split groups from Thursday as quoted by Sky Sports.
“Inside, social distancing, wearing of masks, and probably spending a lot of time on your own isn’t a lot of fun and it is a bit of a culture shock. It will be weird – anyone who thinks this is going to be a holiday camp is going to be seriously mistaken.
“It is about removing as much risk as you can and it is down to all of us to police it. We have been in constant dialogue with the players and they are all very aware of the seriousness of the situation.
“People are going to make mistakes, we all are, but for the sake of everyone’s safety and the cricket, we need to operate within these protocols as much as we can.”
Giles also said players will be allowed to leave and re-enter the team “bubble” during the series.
“We are going to have to find opportunities to get guys out of the environment and back home but it is important that if they are coming back, that when they leave they are going to a safe environment,” said former England spinner Giles.
“We haven’t talked about banning players (from pubs and restaurants) but we would ask them to be sensible, which they have been throughout this whole process.
“They need to continue that because if you come back into the environment and you haven’t been adhering to the guidelines, then you put everyone else and the series at risk.
“We could have a very secure bubble, yet the rest of the world is operating at a new normal in terms of going to pubs and restaurants, but our main responsibility is to get this series on the road and keep everyone safe.
“Especially the West Indies team, who have done so much to come here. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”