England stars will eat in shifts during training to maintain social distancing ahead of Test series against West Indies… and will be locked in the Ageas Bowl every day for TEN hours
- England and West Indies’ squads face a daily 10-hour lock-in at the Ageas Bowl
- England’s players will have to eat separately in a shift system during training
- The protocols will be in place to ensure players maintain social distancing
- The West Indies’ tour arrangements involve travelling from Old Trafford
England’s players will have to eat separately, with meal times determined by a shift system, when they begin group training at the Ageas Bowl later this month ahead their Test series against West Indies.
Under the ECB’s operational protocols, both squads face a daily 10-hour lock-in at the ground for each of the three Test matches.
The West Indies’ complex tour arrangements involve travelling from their current base at Old Trafford to the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on three separate coaches, with a stop for lunch at a county ground en route.
England’s players will have to eat separately, with meal times determined by a shift system
The protocols have been put in place to ensure the players maintain social distancing at all times before the start of the series on July 8, when daily testing for coronavirus will begin.
Strict segregation will be maintained at the Hilton Ageas Bowl where both teams will be staying. England and West Indies have been allocated one floor of the hotel each, with the third taken over by operational and match-day staff.
England are due to begin training at the Ageas Bowl on June 23 with an initial squad of 30 players, which will be cut to 22 before the start of the series.
With their reduced backroom team still numbering 18, there will be almost 50 personnel within England’s bubble, making communal eating difficult at the hotel due to the size of the restaurant.
Under the ECB’s protocols, both squads face a daily 10-hour lock-in at the Ageas Bowl
As a result, England and West Indies will be given fixed meal times for breakfast and dinner, with players eating in small groups at two or three separate sittings. The use of room service will also be encouraged.
West Indies are not due at the Ageas Bowl until the start of July. The squad will travel from Manchester on three separate coaches. Rather than stop at a service station, the tourists will have lunch at a county ground, which will be deep cleaned afterwards.
Communal dining at lunch and tea during the Test match will be less of a challenge due to the number of hospitality boxes at the Ageas Bowl.
The players will not be permitted to move around or meet anyone outside the squad, however, so the ECB are planning to create team rooms at the ground with leisure facilities to keep the sides entertained before and after play, and during any rain breaks.
West Indies’ Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Rahkeem Cornwall arrive at Manchester Airport
Pool tables, dartboards, games consoles and even a golf simulator are expected to feature in a facility that in ordinary circumstances would be located at the teams’ hotel.
One team room will be located in the vacated media centre with the other in an executive lounge.
All England’s matches this summer will be televised live on Sky Sports.
Unlike in their football coverage, Sky have no plans to use artificial crowd noise to enhance the broadcast.
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