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BCCI SOPs: CMO, staggered training, masks and more for domestic cricketers

The Saurashtra players celebrate a wicket Shailesh Bhatnagar

The BCCI has sent an email to state associations on Sunday, outlining several measures in the form of guidelines that need to be followed in order for domestic cricket to resume safely. Although it did not say the guidelines are mandatory, the BCCI pointed out that the "health and safety" of all stakeholders, including players, would be the "sole responsibility" of the state associations, while also hinting that it didn't expect domestic cricket to resume very soon.

The document, which stretches to 100 pages, was prepared by a team of medical experts including Dr Abhijit Salvi, BCCI's anti-doping, age verification and medical consultant. The standard operating procedures (SOPs) are meant primarily for players and coaching staff to resume training, help them understand how to operate in a sterile environment, the dos and don'ts of social distancing in a team environment, and what to do if someone tests positive. They also include restrictions on people who are at least 60 years old and/or have an underlying medical condition.

ESPNcricinfo lists the key guidelines that the BCCI has said need to be adhered to by state associations at all times to negate or limit the spread of the outbreak, both before and after domestic cricket resumes.

First step - Appoint a chief medical officer

Every state will need to have a CMO who will be "responsible for ensuring the biosafety" guidelines are implemented. The CMO will also become the point of contact for the team and the administrative staff, and will also keep them posted on the latest directives issued by the public health authorities within each state, whose permit will be needed to restart training activities.

Can players start training en masse?

No. The BCCI has suggested "solo training followed by small group activities and progressing to training in larger groups." Before arriving at training, the player/coaching staff will need to provide his/her travel and medical history for the preceding two weeks. Any person displaying Covid-19 symptoms will need to undergo testing. The BCCI has said: "two tests one day apart (Day 1 & Day 3) should be done to account for false negatives. If both test results are negative, only then they should be included in the camp."

What about wearing a mask?

It is "mandatory" for players and coaching staff to wear a mask in public places between the time they leave their home/hotel and reach the ground. The BCCI has said wearing the mask will be "optional" during training. The mask should be a "triple layer or N95 mask (without a valved respirator)" that will cover both the nose and the mouth. In addition, players and coaching staff have been "encouraged" to put on "eyewear" at all times.

Any age restrictions or for people with underlying medical conditions?

Individuals "over" 60 years old should be "discouraged", the BCCI has said. These include "support staff, umpires, ground staff, and those individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, weakened immunity, etc should be considered vulnerable and are believed to have a higher risk of severe Covid-19. All such individuals should be discouraged from participating in the camp activities until suitable guidelines are issued by the Government."

Will there be regular testing on every day of training?

All players and support staff should have their body temperature checked every day. "If a member develops any initial symptoms (cough, headache, chills, fever, body ache, difficulty breathing, loss of smell or taste or any other unusual symptoms) they should intimate the team medical personnel immediately and remain self-quarantined until help arrives," the BCCI has said.

What happens if someone tests positive?

According to the protocols "suspected/positive cases" should be "immediately isolated from the rest of the squad and managed in close coordination with local hospitals and treatment centres equipped with COVID-19 testing and treatment." Along with following all the mandatory norms set by the Indian government, the BCCI has said the state associations should ensure contact tracing is done "immediately".

What about team huddles?

The BCCI has said team members need to "avoid physical contact of any form i.e. team huddles, handshakes, high-fives, tackling etc." as part of the norms to be followed at all times during on-filed training. Also to be avoided is "handing over" a cap, a towel, sunglasses, etc to umpires or teammates.

The BCCI has also suggested "team discussions" should "strictly" adhere to social distancing norms and be conducted on the ground "where more space is available."

Saliva on the ball?

Like the ICC, the BCCI, too, has said that saliva "should not be used" on balls. Another guideline is to not sanitise balls without getting the nod from BCCI.

Can players spit on the ground?

Strictly "prohibited", the BCCI has said. "Spitting and clearing of nasal/respiratory secretions on the ground or at any place other than washrooms shall be prohibited. Members doing so should discard the soiled tissue paper securely in the provided dustbins."

Can players share equipment?

Cricket equipment should not be shared. The same applies to not sharing towels in the dressing room, on the ground while training, and in the gym. Ditto with sharing "water/drink" bottles. "Marker pens should be provided for marking each individual member's bottle once allotted," the BCCI said.

Can a player step out of the bubble during a training camp?

The guidelines say team members should "avoid stepping out of the team environment" as well as meeting people outside the bubble during the course of a training camp. This includes family. "If any member is required to travel outside the team environment for unavoidable circumstances, upon his/her return, he/she should be isolated from the rest of the squad and medically assessed, before he/she is allowed back in the team environment," the BCCI said.