ECB clarify availability amid fears that India series could be compromised by close contacts
England men’s Test players have been made available for two games each in the inaugural season of the Hundred, ahead of their five-match series against India.
With Covid-19 cases on the rise in the UK and the ECB desperate to ensure that the summer’s showpiece Test series goes ahead unaffected, there had been suggestions that England’s players would be pulled out of the new 100-ball competition altogether in order to minimise their risk of infection.
Instead, they will play two matches each for their respective teams before being ‘bridged’ into England’s secure team environment ahead of the first Test at Trent Bridge on August 4. The ECB had initially hoped that Test players would be available for three group games, and a decision is yet to be reached on their availability for the knockout stages, which take place between the second and third Tests against India.
While players participating in the Hundred have been asked to follow certain protocols aimed at minimising the risk of Covid infection – such as avoiding pubs and shops – and are being tested regularly, the involvement of England players does increase the risk of them missing the first Test due to self-isolation, either due to testing positive themselves or being a close contact of a positive team-mate.
Players on red-ball central contracts will not be replaced, since their deals fall outside of the Hundred’s draft mechanism, but teams can sign replacements for players called up without such deals – London Spirit’s Crawley and Wood, for example. It is expected that the ECB will confirm the squad for the first Test later this week.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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