The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is keeping a close watch on the rising Covid-19 cases in the United Kingdom as it fears it could lead to overseas players deciding to give this year’s The Hundred tournament, which starts in two weeks’ time, a miss.
The month-long competition returns for its second year on August 3, with the fixtures for the men’s and women’s competitions having been announced. The men’s action starts with Southern Brave taking on Welsh Fire at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on August 8 and women’s fixtures begin on August 11 at The Kia Oval in London.
There will be a double header for the finals on September 3 at Lord’s. The popularity of the tournament can be gauged from the fact that more than 500,000 tickets were sold last year and it has become a major source of revenue for the ECB.
However, a report in Daily Mail on Sunday said the ECB is wary of Covid cases “impacting overseas arrivals” with a recent surge in Covid cases across the UK in the last few days. Fearing that cricket stars might be reluctant to fly to the UK due to the “the dangers of the virus”, the ECB has started monitoring the situation, the report said.
The report added that this is just a precautionary measure as there is nothing to suggest that the government will impose a virus lockdown.
Getting some of the big names for The Hundred has been a problem this year and the ECB has allowed the eight teams to include a fourth overseas player in their squads as well. As per the government guidelines, professional players and officials are required to only test for Covid if experiencing symptoms and “they can return to action once a negative result is recorded”, the report added.