The Cricket committee of the International Cricket Council recommended changes to the ICC regulations to reduce the risks posed by the COVID-19 virus, and protect the safety of players and match officials. The Committee, led by former legendary Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble, concluded a conference call convened to specifically address issues related to COVID-19 which included maintaining the condition of the match ball and the appointment of non-neutral umpires and referees to international cricket. The recommendations of the Cricket Committee will now be presented to the ICC Chief Executives’ Committee in the early stages of June for approval.
The ICC Cricket Committee heard from the Chair of the ICC Medical Advisory Committee Dr Peter Harcourt regarding the elevated risk of the transmission of the virus through saliva, and unanimously agreed to recommend that the use of saliva to polish the ball be prohibited.
The Committee also noted the medical advice that it is highly unlikely that the virus can be transmitted through sweat and saw no need to prohibit the use of sweat to polish the ball whilst recommending that enhanced hygiene measures are implemented on and around the playing field.
Non-Neutral Umpires and referees to international matches
The current regulations that apply to the appointment of match officials to men’s Test, ODI and T20I matches are summarised below. Since 2002, officials appointed by the ICC must not be from the same country as the participating teams.
Given the challenges of international travel with borders being closed, limited commercial flights and mandatory quarantine periods, the Committee recommended that local match officials be appointed in the short-term.
The appointments will continue to be made via the ICC from local Elite and International Panel referees and umpires. Where there are no Elite Panel match officials in the country, the best local International Panel match officials will be appointed.
The Committee also recommended that the use of technology is increased to support the appointments of a wider pool of umpires from around the world and has proposed an additional DRS review per team per innings is introduced in each format as an interim measure.
ICC Cricket Committee Chairperson Anil Kumble said: “We are living through extraordinary times and the recommendations the Committee have made today are interim measures to enable us to safely resume cricket in a way that preserves the essence of our game whilst protecting everyone involved.”