In its guidelines, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has listed match officials, support staff and individuals above the age of 60 ‘as specific risks’ in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cricket is officiated by umpires on the field of play and their health and well-being needs to be taken into full consideration as they spend the greatest amount of time in close proximity to players,” the guidelines said.
“Participants, in particular umpires, match referees and support staff may be considered vulnerable individuals that are at higher risk of severe illness due to CV-19. This includes older individuals (approx. 60+) and people of any age with underlying medical conditions such as cardiac, kidney, diabetes, obesity, weak innate immunity, etc.”
Keeping this in mind, it has been advised that the players will ‘not be sharing’ anything they touch with the umpires during play. “Players and umpires should maintain social distancing on the field of play and that includes no handing over of player items (cap, towels, sunglasses, jumpers) to the umpire or teammates.) Umpires may also be encouraged to use gloves when handling the ball. Consider adopting a process that will assist the bowler in managing his/her items,” the ICC guidelines stated.
With most of the umpires and coaching staff members above 50 years of age, it needs to be seen how the member boards address the issue.