England’s cricket stars have been urged to be careful about heading back to pubs and restaurants – with Ashley Giles warning they could be putting the planned schedule at risk.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said England will see a reopening of many drinking, eating and even entertainment establishments from July 4, and there may be a clamour to rekindle social lives.
But with the coronavirus threat still present, there is no certainty such venues will be safe environments, even with social distancing measures in place.
England are hosting West Indies and Pakistan in Test action in the coming months, they also play the latter in T20 cricket as well, plus have ODIs against Ireland and potentially limited-overs games against Australia to come.
Former spin bowler Giles, now director of men’s cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board, said it was important to be aware of the possible perils of mixing socially.
“We haven’t talked about banning them, but what we’d ask them to be is sensible,” Giles said. “They have been throughout the whole process.
“They need to continue that, because if you come back into an environment and you haven’t been adhering to the guidelines then you put everyone else and the series at risk.”
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England will be living in bio-secure environments for large parts of their summer, but squads for each series could differ, and there may be factors that mean players have to temporarily leave camp.
The opening matches see England face West Indies in three Tests, with the first played in Southampton before back-to-back fixtures at Old Trafford.
“It’ll be quite strange,” Giles said. “We could be in a situation where we have a very secure bubble for the second and third Test matches of the series and the rest of the world is operating at a new normal, with restaurants and pubs open again.
“Our main responsibility is to get this series on the road and keep everyone safe, especially including the West Indies team who’ve done so much to come here.”
With 10 Pakistan players having tested positive for coronavirus, it remains to be seen whether they and England can go ahead with their planned series, although both sides are intending to do so at present.
A backstop option could see England invite Ireland to step into the breach.
Giles says that is not currently being discussed, adding: “As with this situation throughout, we’ve had to be agile and adapt very quickly to different situations, all of us.”
When England are locked together in camp, Giles says it will be the responsibility of everyone to guard against missteps, and he is braced for mistakes to be made.
“I think it would be down to all of us to police it. The players are aware of the seriousness of the situation,” he told a news conference.
“People are going to make mistakes. We all are. We’re all going to get it wrong.
“It will be weird. Anyone who thinks this is going to be a holiday camp is going to be seriously mistaken.
“There could be an opportunity for some guys to play golf on a course next door. But apart from that there’s two sessions of cricket a day; there’s going to be a lot of work.
“But inside, social distancing still, wearing of masks, probably spending a lot of time on your own isn’t a lot of fun and I think it’s a bit of a culture shock.”
Giles said he was “quietly confident” about Australia visiting later this year, albeit there was “some nervousness” on the part of their Ashes rivals.