An extensive list of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines were issued by the BCCI in relation to resumption of domestic cricket activities and training at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
Protocols related to ground and practice facilities, gymnasium, physiotherapy, medical protocols, education with relation to COVID-19, including the do’s and don’t’s, were all listed in the 100-page SOP, accessed by Cricbuzz, which also included consent forms that the players and support staff had to sign.
The guidelines were meant for all players, support staff involved in training, administrative staff and the facility management staff, who will all be required to undergo testing before the resumption of training and will also need to fill out pre-training questionnaires. The SOP recommended a phased approach to the resumption of training, before which the state associations has to obtain the necessary permissions from local administration and health authorities, along with the appointment of a Chief Medical Officer and medical staff responsible for implementation of biosafety guidelines.
As part of preparations for training to start, travel and medical history of the players and staff (for the past two weeks) has to be obtained. Any player or staff suspected to have symptoms related to COVID-19 should undergo two tests, with a gap of one day between the tests, and will be allowed in the camp only if both tests are negative.
Wearing masks (optional while training) and installing the Aarogya Setu app are mandatory, while the players and staff must carry and use personal hand sanitizer bottles. The SOP also recommended the players to use their own cricketing equipment. The SOP dissuaded individuals over the age of 60 (viz support staff, umpires, ground staff, and those individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, weakened immunity, etc) from participating in the camp.
Checking of body temperatures every day, sanitization of kit bags, sanitization of cricket balls after discussion with relevant authorities at BCCI HQ, coming to the ground dressed in required attires to minimise use of dressing rooms, wash rooms, etc, gradual progression of the training workload, social distancing while training on the ground, avoiding physical contact, and not using saliva on the ball were listed in the SOP for training.
As part of education of the players and staff, a webinar before the commencement of training and an in-person workshop on the first day of training would be conducted by the CMO, covering aspects like hand hygiene and health & safety measures, operating protocols with Dos and Don’ts, travel protocols, team hotel protocols, ground and practice facilities protocols, reporting protocols for any illnesses, and protocols for managing a suspected/positive COVID-19 case.
Accommodation guidelines include players staying in single-occupancy rooms, location of hotel close to the ground, health screening of academy/hotel staff, sanitization of rooms and facilities, isolating players from other hotel guests. Travel protocols recommended using buses as the main mode of transport, with the buses exclusively meant for players and support staff, health screening of the drivers, using hand sanitizers and following social distancing norms. The SOP recommended use of personal vehicles for those travelling from their homes, while those who cannot were advised to stay at the academy/hotel.
Sanitization of all the areas in the ground, prohibitions of spectators, players’ parents and other visitors at the venue, a single point access to the ground, minimising the number of catering staff and attendants, were listed in the SOPs. Protocols for managing suspected or positive COVID-19 cases were also mentioned, which included isolation and treatment, and use of PPE kits.
The SOP also listed the appointment of a COVID Task force at the NCA to guide and monitor all trainees and staff within the centre. The chairperson of the task force is responsible for the overall implementation of the protocols, and appointment of members of the task force. The members include: Head Cricket – National Cricket Academy, AGM Cricket Operations – BCCI, Head physiotherapist of the Academy, Security and facilities head, Medical officer- on-call basis, Hygiene officer, Infection control nurse – on-call basis.
Implementation of necessary precautionary measures for training, use of gymnasium and physiotherapy room, medical centre, security protocols, education, and regular monitoring of players, support staff and management staff at the NCA were also mentioned in the SOP.
While the comprehensive guidelines for domestic cricketing activities has been sent to the state associations by the BCCI, the Indian board is yet to finalise on details related to resumption of cricket, the tournaments that will be part of the domestic calendar and the fixtures.