A senior clinical lecturer in infectious disease control at the University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health has said that the risk of cricketers spreading coronavirus to fellow players during a game is low.

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Speaking to Scott Oliver in the upcoming issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, Dr Bharat Pankhania said: “The possibility of a ball carrying infection is remote, remote. It may have infectious saliva on it, but I don’t think the ball is infectious. It’s out in the open air, a drying-out environment, which is perfect. Even men around the bat [in close proximity] is only a marginal risk. As for the umpires, the risk is not zero, but it’s very low. Wearing gloves [for players] is pointless, but masks for the umpires would be a good idea.”

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While Dr Pankania’s comments may give cause for optimism, he warned that while the game of cricket might itself by low risk, the environment around a typical game of recreational cricket may carry more threat. “Where players get together off the field, indoors, is the risky place,” added Dr Pankhania. “Out in the open, there’s immediate dispersion and dilution of the virus. The ‘loading dose’ of the virus is much, much reduced when you’re outdoors. What is clear to me is that out on the pitch is low-risk, provided you don’t then increase the risk when you go inside.”  

Yesterday, the ICC advised that saliva should not be used for ball-shining when international cricket returns. They instead recommended the use of sweat for players to shine the ball.