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Preparation: Director of Cricket Ashley Giles

Preparation: Director of Cricket Ashley Giles

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Preparation: Director of Cricket Ashley Giles

England cricketers will return to individual training from next week with a reassurance that safety protocols should make the sessions less risky than a trip to the supermarket.

After assessing Government guidance the England and Wales Cricket Board has designed a programme for around 30 male players to work on personalised regimes alongside one coach and one physio at a time, with up to 11 first-class grounds being utilised.

Bowlers will be the first into action and are expected to begin work on Wednesday, some with an additional strength and conditioning specialist present, with batsmen following a fortnight later.

As well as being outdoors, weather allowing, players and staff will observe social-distancing advice, take temperature tests on arrival while any injury treatment will only be undertaken with full personal protective equipment in use.

The measures are the next step towards the governing body's hopes of hosting international matches in July, though that ambition is contingent on a number of other factors.

As ever the health of all involved remains the top priority and Ashley Giles, director of men's cricket at the ECB, insists the highest standards are being met.

"To be clear, we will only train and potentially play cricket behind closed doors if we know it is absolutely safe to do so and is fully supported by the Government," he said. "It is very clear that this is individual skills-based training so in many ways we should be able to get control of the environment right, so it's safer to go back to practice than it is to go to the supermarket.

"In this first phase, this should be a safer environment than going about daily life as it is - such as shopping. We are also outside where we know the risks are far less."

The training group has been chosen with a focus on red-ball cricket, and a Test series against the West Indies, but does not constitute a squad at this stage. As well as the centrally-contracted regulars there are also likely to be uncapped county players involved, with a larger group needed to populate any subsequent training camps or behind-closed-doors series.

Giles, national selector Ed Smith, performance director Mo Bobat and head coach Chris Silverwood were all involved in putting together the names, which are due to be announced early next week.

Any chosen players who are not centrally contracted will be temporarily moved to the ECB payroll, with all the majority of professionals currently stood down on the coronavirus job retention scheme.

The same is true of a small number of domestic coaches and backroom staff, who will be needed to bolster the current international team.

Belfast Telegraph