Sport

Test Cricket is Back

England and West Indies first to experience ‘new normal’ for the sport.

Nearly four months have passed since Test cricket was put on pause but the game is back as England begins their three-match series against the West Indies.

With fans eager for the battle between bat and ball to return to screens, the sport will be very different to before, as the ICC has approved a number of interim regulation changes to follow COVID-19 guidelines and maximise the safety of players.

The series will be taking place behind closed doors, just like football, in two bio-secure stadiums. The Ageas Bowl will host the first #raisethebat Test, before teams move on to Emirates Old Trafford for the second and third Tests.

Players and officials will live at on-site hotels, will be screened daily for symptoms and will be regularly tested. Grounds have been made ‘bio-secure’ and have been divided into designated zones, separating the two teams, officials, grounds staff and the media. Movement between zones will be strictly limited.

There will be no fans inside the grounds, but there will be a PA announcer and previous crowds will be played throughout. Player interviews will also be slightly different, with a ‘Player Zone’ set up for Ben Stokes and the rest of the team to talk to Sky Sports at various points throughout the Test.

The ICC has confirmed teams will be able to substitute any player who shows signs of COVID-19 during a Test match, for a like-for-like swap. Players will also be given ‘warnings’ if they use saliva to shine the ball.

The requirement to appoint a neutral official for a Test match has also been temporarily removed due to travel restrictions, resulting in the first four-man English umpiring team in 19 years.

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