International cricket will restart on Wednesday, 117 days after the coronavirus pandemic had brought a screeching halt to all live-action in March. England and West Indies will resume proceedings in the first Test at the Ageas Bowl, but the two teams will be playing behind closed doors in a ‘biosecure bubble’.
What is bio-bubble?
Bio-bubble has been the buzz word over the past few weeks, which effectively means a safe and secure environment that is cut off from the rest of the world. England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has prepared a ‘bio-secure’ biosphere for all the support staff and players in order to keep them isolated from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 7, 2020
Only a limited number of people can access these areas, including the players, who will be put up at hotels on site. All of them will be regularly tested. Media movement will also be restricted, with a diminished headcount than usual. Maintaining social distance, daily temperature checks, and filing daily health reports are part of the new norms.
Further, areas have been demarcated into various perimeters with testing sites spanning 1500- 2000 sq. meters, and green zones designating where particular groups are able to be within the “inner core” of the venues (such as the on-site hotel or field of play).
Players Perspective – ‘like a sci-fi movie’
England pacer Mark Wood has admitted that training inside a bio-secure bubble has been a “weird” experience and something similar to a “sci-fi movie”. “It’s a bit like a sci-fi movie,” Wood was quoted as saying by the Evening Standard.
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) June 11, 2020
“Everybody’s masked up and you can’t see anybody. You don’t know if they’re friendly or not! It’s a bit different and a bit weird, but it’s just something we’ll have to get used to,” he added.
West Indies pacer Oshane Thomas says the experience hasn’t been that bad after all. “In terms of how long things will be like this, we really have to wait and see. The experience hasn’t been bad. The ECB and CWI have done all in their power to ensure that we are comfortable. A lot of free time is spent in the games room playing dominoes,” Thomas told ANI.
So how safe is the bubble?
So the normal idea is if the number of people in an enclosure can be limited then chances of spreading the virus reduces considerably. The England cricket board has also added a number of protocols to add to the safety – everyone who enters the bubble will have been tested and that number could be somewhere around 200-250 comprising players, support staff, media, and venue staff.
Further, isolation rooms have also been built in the venue in case someone tests positive while inside the bubble. However, should someone test positive, all the preparations could end up in a frenzy. What also needs to kept in mind is that when a group of people are in one area for more than 3-4 days, it is not 100 percent fool-proof.
WARM UP MATCH: Kyle Mayers strikes another boundary, as he continues to fight for his team.
Brathwaite’s XI are currently on 145-8 (30 overs)
Mayers 62* (50 balls)
Harding 10* (16 balls)
— Windies Cricket (@windiescricket) July 2, 2020
However, Dr. Sanjeev Singh Yadav, Secretary Indian Medical Association (Telangana state) feels that this is a bit unrealistic. “Obviously, they want to bring cricket to the audience but this is not the right time. The world is yet to come out of the problem. There will be five days of cricket and with 200 people involved there is always a chance that someone might get infected and that would be a catastrophe,” he told the indianexpress.com.
Earlier, Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid had also raised doubts on the cricket’s restart and said that even if the ECB did manage to create a bubble it will be impossible for everyone to do it, with the kind of calendar that exists.