Foreseeing resumption of on-field play in the UK in July via the Test series against West Indies, England players will restart their outdoor skill-based training next week, said director of cricket Ashley Giles.
As per health directive issued by the government, however, the players, across all sports in the UK, will have the option of "pulling out" of training if they have any apprehensions due to the health risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"These are the very first tentative steps back to playing cricket," Giles was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "This is individual-based training, so in many ways we should be able to get control of the environment so it's safer to go back to practice than it is to go to the supermarket. It should be that controlled an environment."
The option of pulling out is given to all sportspersons as per the protocols issued by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
"All athletes and support staff should be engaged in a 1:1 check-in prior to resumption of organised step one training to ensure they have understood the sport specific risks and mitigations, training site protocols in place, are physically and mentally well enough to engage in return to training and have actively 'opted in' to engaging in step one return to training," the protocol document states.
"It will be for individual sports to agree with their athletes any conditions for their return. All athletes and staff should also be clear on their route to 'opt out' of the organised training environment under Step One conditions at any time without unreasonable steps being taken against them consequently."
The challenge for the ECB is to have quarantine plans, bio-secure venues ready to be able to host the West Indies and then Pakistan for important World Test Championship fixtures.
"It can be quite scary but we are doing everything we possibly can to answer all of West Indies' questions," said Giles. "We will be speaking to Pakistan as well and mitigate as much risk as we possibly can. We can't mitigate all risk but as much as possible to get guys comfortable."
"We are also outside where we know the risks are far less. We will certainly carry out the right risk assessments at the venues. We will make sure all the staff are trained and that we have the right equipment, including PPE [personal protective equipment]. We will make sure everything is there for the guys to go about their business as safely as possible."
"Would I be confident if I were a West Indies player? I would be nervous, certainly, but we are all nervous aren't we? I'm not making light of this but there are risks every time you go outside the house. We need to mitigate as many of the risks as we possibly can," he added.
(Inputs from PTI)