Counties’ pre-season tours have been thrown up in the air by the COVID-19 pandemic, with several clubs returning home early or cancelling their trips overseas.
On Friday, PCA chief executive Tony Irish said: “The uncertainty and speed at which COVID-19 is developing presents challenges and risks throughout the world. Some of our county teams are currently on tour in other countries and it is essential that the health risk in those countries, not only in relation to exposure to the virus but also to the protocols governing any isolation, are constantly being assessed and the players are being kept informed.
“Any situation in which players might be prevented from returning home to the UK would be disastrous. A number of counties, in exercising their respective duties of care over their teams, have already cancelled or curtailed their tours and we expect that will also happen in relation to the teams who are still on tour.”
This page will be regularly updated with the latest news from each team.
Landed in Zimbabwe last Monday, March 9. Were scheduled to return to the UK on March 29, but club announced on Saturday – after winning the first game of the tour – that they would head home on Monday (March 16). A club statement said: “While no member of the touring group has shown any symptoms related to COVID-19, the health and safety of our players and staff remains of paramount importance and therefore the decision has been made to bring the group home at the earliest available opportunity.”
Dave Houghton, head of cricket, said: “While the decision to return was not an easy one to make, it is the correct one for all players and everyone associated with the club currently in Zimbabwe.”
Landed in Zimbabwe on Thursday, March 12. Initially scheduled to return to the UK on March 29 but confirmed on Sunday that they would be returning to the UK early. “It is regrettable that the county teams have been forced to cut short their Zimbabwe tour as a precautionary move,” said ZC’s acting managing director Givemore Makoni, “but it is totally understandable as the clubs are concerned, like all of us would be, about the worsening COVID-19 situation back in their country and elsewhere in the world.”
Director of cricket Marcus North said: “The health and safety of our players coaches and staff is the main consideration in any decision we make. Due to the potential travel disruption and uncertainty around the ongoing situation it is in the best interest of everyone to bring the traveling party back to the UK at this time.”
Flew out to Abu Dhabi on Monday, and will return home at weekend rather than the planned date of March 21. Chief exectuive Derek Bowden said: “We have been monitoring the COVID-19 situation for a while, and although the area we’re based in is currently one of the least affected regions, the health and wellbeing of our players and staff is our highest priority, as is the season ahead.
“Therefore, the decision has been made for everybody to return early and to continue with pre-season preparations at Chelmsford. We’d like to thank and acknowledge the Members and fans who were planning on making the trip to support the team in both Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka.”
Earlier, the Champion County fixture against MCC in Sri Lanka was cancelled, but the Abu Dhabi leg had been expected to continue as planned.
Pre-season tour to La Manga in Spain cancelled. Mark Wallace, director of cricket, said: ‘While cancelling the tour is not ideal, the health of our players and staff is paramount to the club.
“We have excellent facilities at the ground and our players and coaching staff will work hard to make sure the impact on our pre-season preparation is minimal.”
Pre-season tour to La Manga cancelled. Chief executive Will Brown said: “The welfare of our employees and players is paramount to all at Gloucestershire Cricket. As such we think it is not advisable for our tour to go ahead to La Manga at this time.
“We would like to thank the La Manga resort, the PCA and all of the coaching and playing squads for all of their support and understanding and we look forward to returning to La Manga next year.”
Bowling group flew to La Manga on Wednesday. Rest of squad were due to join on Friday but have not travelled, and those in Spain will return today. “The health and wellbeing of our players and staff is our primary concern and after monitoring the situation related to COVID-19 closely, we have taken the decision to return from La Manga as a precautionary measure,” said director of cricket Giles White.
“Following significant uncertainty around travel overseas and the further disruption this could cause, we will now continue our pre-season preparations at the Ageas Bowl, giving us the best opportunity to be prepared for the coming season.”
Travelled to Potchefstroom, South Africa for a training camp earlier in the week, will return early this weekend. “This is the right decision for our players and support staff as the club exercises its duty of care over its staff,” said a statement.
Scheduled trips to Dubai and South Africa cancelled. Head coach Glenn Chapple said: “South Africa isn’t one of the most affected areas, but [considering] the challenges faced by teams travelling together and being in hotels together, we have decided it would be better to stay at home and give everyone the best chance to stay fit and be ready to play.
“You could end up with 25 of you quarantined abroad and then you might have to do the same when you get back. You’re then not ready to start the season because you’ve had four weeks of inactivity. That’s why we decided it was best avoided particularly with the start to the season so close now.”
Originally scheduled to travel to Desert Springs in Spain on March 17 for a five-day training camp. The club issued a statement on Monday saying that the trip had been cancelled. Paul Nixon, Leicestershire’s head coach, said: “The welfare of the players, coaches, staff and their families is absolute paramount in this situation. Based upon this, we do not think it would be wise for the squad to travel to Spain for their tour.
“We would like to thank the resort, our travel partners, the ECB, the PCA and all of the coaching and playing squads for all of their support and understanding. We have already spoken about the possibility of returning next year.”
Returned on Monday from a trip to Oman, having been scheduled to stay until March 19. A club statement said: “The players have returned early from their pre-season tour in Oman – returning to the UK this morning, several days earlier than planned. Whilst all medical advice we received was that remaining in Oman posed no additional threat to the club’s players or staff, we felt that the speed with which the situation is changing across the globe – often hourly, that the welfare of the players and staff in Oman would be better served by them returning early to the UK. They landed this morning at Heathrow and will spend some time with their families before returning to their pre-season training preparations at Merchant Taylors’ School.”
Having flown to Singapore on March 9, Northants spent a week in the country before deciding to return home early due to concern about the situatuon in the UK. Chief executive, Ray Payne, said: “It’s important to understand that this isn’t a case of us wanting to get the first available flight out of Singapore. It’s about the worsening situation at home and people being concerned about their families and wanting to be with them. It’s a very safe environment here but it’s understandable, there’s a lot of players with young families in our squad and right now that’s what’s most important.”
Having been due to fly back on Friday, that has now been brought forward. Under current UK government advice, returning travellers from Singapore should self-isolate for 14 days if they experience any symptoms of the virus, however mild. ESPNcricinfo understands that none of the players on the tour has experienced any health issues and that the mood in the squad is good.
Club announced cancellation of friendly against Northants, replacing it with a fixture against Lancashire. Were never scheduled to go overseas for pre-season.
Tour to Abu Dhabi cancelled. Director of cricket Andy Hurry said: “Obviously, the health and wellbeing of our players, support staff and their families are of the highest importance.
“Although Abu Dhabi has appropriate protocols in place, the change of the national state from ‘Contain’ to ‘Delay’ coupled with the potential escalation of any isolation process for those returning to the UK have become key factors in the decision making process.
“Any imposed period of inactivity due to isolation of our players and staff would certainly adversely impact our pre-season preparation and potentially some early season fixtures.”
Tour to Dubai cancelled. Director of cricket Alec Stewart said: “While it’s disappointing we won’t be able to return to Dubai this year, the health of our players and staff is paramount. The directive from Dubai Sports Council advising all venues to cancel or reschedule all international activities until the end of the month as a precautionary measure related to the spread of the COVID-19 means the ICC Academy are unable to host our training camp.
“As well as this, current uncertainties around travel and potential quarantine periods, either abroad or in the UK, mean this trip would simply be too disruptive to our preparations for the 2020 season.”
What a a setting…
The squad are busy training in Cape Town as their pre-season camp continuespic.twitter.com/6IPfrN6YIL
— Sussex Cricket (@SussexCCC) March 13, 2020
Flew to South Africa on Monday, March 9 for two-week tour. Initially scheduled to return on March 21 but confirmed on March 16 that they would return to UK on next available flight. The club’s AGM has been postponed.
Performance director Keith Greenfield said: “We have been monitoring the fast-moving situation regarding Coronavirus prior to and during the tour and, with travel restrictions increasing, we’ve made the decision to return to the UK at the earliest opportunity. This is obviously disappointing, but – as ever – the wellbeing of our players and staff is our number one priority.”
Bowling group flew to La Manga last Friday, rest of squad followed on Tuesday. Squad will return to Birmingham on Saturday. Paul Farbrace, the club’s sport director, said: “We have been closely monitoring the Coronavirus situation in Spain and have been working closely with our tour partners Sporta Group to get the latest local information.
“Whilst the Murcia region of Spain is currently one of the least affected parts of the country, the health and wellbeing of our playing squad and management is our utmost priority and bringing them back to Edgbaston is the best outcome for everyone.
“We will continue our pre-season preparations at Edgbaston next week ahead of the first friendly versus Leicestershire, which starts on March 26.”
Tour to Abu Dhabi cancelled. A club statement said: “Contingency plans at WCCC have been worked on since mid-February 2020 and we hope to be in a position to update members when these plans are concluded shortly.”
Arrived in Mumbai on Thursday, shortly before India confirmed suspension of foreign visas. Were due to return on March 23, but announced on Friday after that squad will come back to UK “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
“Having monitored the situation regarding the Covid-19 virus, the club has taken the decision to bring all players and staff back immediately,” a statement read. “With England’s tour to Sri Lanka postponed earlier today, and the spread of the virus expected to continue, this was deemed as the only possible course of action. The health of the players, support staff and their families come first. The club will continue to monitor the situation surrounding the virus as plans for alternative preparations for the season are made.”