The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc all over the world and disrupted day to day life. International cricket has come to a screeching halt as well and it’s three months since the last international game was played.
But the situation in a few countries has improved and things have changed. With the lockdown opening up in various places, sporting activities are slowly trying to get back on its feet. International cricket is only a month away with West Indies touring England for a three-match Test series.
However, for the moment and near future, quite a few things change. With the risk of the corona-virus running high, there are some changes to the game. The ICC’s Cricket Committee led by Anil Kumble had recommended a bunch of changes and they were approved by the ICC on Tuesday (9th July). The ICC released a statement approving the likes of saliva ban, umpires from the host nations and additional DRS reviews.
With saliva being one of the major contributors to the spread of the coronavirus, the ICC has banned the apply of saliva to shine the ball. Only sweat has been allowed in order to shine the ball. But with the players too used to applying saliva on the ball, the umpires be lenient in the initial period. Although, there will be warnings if the team repeatedly makes the error. The team will be allowed a maximum of two warnings before five-run penalty is levied. Moreover, when saliva is applied on the ball, the ball is supposed to be cleaned by the umpires before play is restarted.
With different quarantine rules in various nations and travel is an issue along with the logistical issues, the ICC has decided to remove the rule of having neutral umpires in international cricket temporarily. Thus, local umpires will officiate. Locally based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials will be appointed by the ICC.
Extra DRS Reviews
The ICC’s Chief Executives’ Committee (CEC) also approved the recommendation of having an additional DRS review in an innings in each of the formats. One of the main reasons being the inexperience of the local umpires that will officiate in the games post-COVID. This results in a total of three DRS reviews in a Test innings and two each in case of an ODI or a T20I innings.
A provision for replacing players testing COVID-19 positive or even for replacing those players showing COVID-19 symptoms has been made. This will be similar to concussion substitutes and match referees will be allowed to approve the nearest like-for-like replacements. However, this is only for Test cricket. There are no COVID-19 replacements for the white-ball formats.
The CEC also allowed the relaxations on the use of logos on apparel for the next one year. A logo which does not exceed 32 square inches in size can be used on the shirt of a Test jersey along with the other three logos permitted as per regulations. Currently, logos are allowed only in the shorter formats – ODIs and T20Is.
ICC Cricket Operations to support Match Referees
The match Referees will be aided by the ICC Cricket Operations team for processing breach of Code of Conduct and related issues. Moreover, an elite panel of neutral match referees will conduct hearings for the same (if required) via video conferencing.