CLUBS can play full 11-a-side matches when recreational cricket returns this weekend.

Following last week's announcement that the sport can return from Saturday, July 11, the England and Wales Cricket Board has now published its full plan to clubs, players, officials and spectators.

The decision to permit cricket marks a move to step four of the ECB's roadmap to return of recreational cricket, which allows adapted play in line with current Government health and social distancing advice.

Full 11-a-side matches can take place from this weekend provided groups are limited to a maximum of 30 participants, including coaches and officials.

READ MORE: New one-off cricket competition to begin on July 25

Cricket activity must take place outdoors, with no sweat or saliva applied to the ball and sharing of equipment must be limited.

Social distancing must be adhered to at the full distance of two metres bar two exceptions where a minimum of one metre is allowed. Those are for wicket keepers standing up to the stumps and for the distance between slip fielders.

In addition, participants not following guidance could be ejected or cause the match to be cancelled, according to detailed guidance relating to officials from the Association of Cricket Officials (ACO).

The ECB has maintained a constant dialogue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) throughout this process and its plan aims to support clubs and individuals as they prepare for the return of recreational cricket, including details of adjustments which should be made to respect hygiene and social distancing requirements.

The plan covers a number of areas of the game, including pre-match adaptations regarding transport and symptom checking, in-game adaptations applying to social distancing measures, hygiene, match officials and the use of equipment, and post-game adaptations, including the potential use of club facilities.

Here is what the plan covers:

During all cricket activity

  • Cricket activity must take place outdoors only.
  • 11-a-side cricket can return as long as groups are limited to a maximum of 30 participants, including coaches and officials.
  • Participants should enter the site and prepare their personal equipment whilst maintaining social distancing.
  • Where possible players should limit sharing of equipment. If they do, they must practise strict hand hygiene before and after use and the equipment must be cleaned before use by another person.
  • No sweat or saliva is to be applied to the ball at any time.
  • All participants should sanitise their hands prior to the start of the activity.
  • Hand sanitiser should be used at all breaks in activity and prior to consuming any food or drinks.
  • Players should refrain from spitting or rinsing out their mouths.
  • In line with current UK Government guidance, clubs should not prepare food for participants. Individuals should bring their own food and drink for ‘teas’ or practice. Water bottles or other refreshment containers should not be shared.

After all cricket activity

  • All participants should sanitise their hands after the completion of activity.
  • Participants should exit whilst maintaining social distancing.
  • Social gathering after the activity will be allowed in line with current UK Government guidelines on hospitality and social distancing must be maintained.
  • One club representative/volunteer should be responsible for collecting and disinfecting any shared equipment.
  • Regular cleaning of equipment and the facility should take place, particularly between one group finishing, and the next group starting.
  • Clubs should encourage all participants to report any infection of their household to the NHS Test and Trace system.
  • Clubs should support NHS Test and Trace efforts by keeping a temporary record of all participants in any cricket activity for 21 days and support NHS requests for data if needed.

Additional advice for socially distanced match-play

  • Players should adhere to UK Government social distancing guidance at all times (including throughout warm-ups) except in the following limited circumstances during competitive play in England only, where 1m+ is permitted: 1) wicket-keepers standing up to the stumps and 2) distance between slip fielders.
  • A ‘hygiene break’ should take place every six overs or every 20 minutes, whichever is sooner, in which the ball is cleaned with an anti-bacterial wipe (conforming to BS EN 14476) and all participants’ hands are cleaned using a suitable sanitiser. This routine should also be followed at the start of any drinks break or the close of an innings. The responsibility for sanitising the ball during the match will lie with the fielding captain, not the umpire.
  • Batters to sanitise their bat when leaving the field of play and wicket keepers should sanitise their gloves.
  • Bowlers should not hand any personal items to the umpire. Bowlers should place these items at the boundary themselves.
  • Batters are to run in distinct running lines to ensure they are not within 2m of the bowler or other batter. Lines to be marked on the square on either side of the wicket.
  • If two scorers are required, social distancing must be maintained with only one official inside the scorers’ box and no players to be allowed in the scorers’ box. The scorers’ box should be well ventilated.
  • Communal scorebooks passed from one player to another should be avoided.
  • Social distancing must always be maintained including during post-wicket celebrations, drinks breaks and tactical discussions.
  • Minimise sharing of the ball in a match by limiting contact as the ball makes its way back to the bowler e.g. ball goes straight from wicketkeeper to bowler instead of around surrounding fielders.
  • Spectators should remain socially distanced at all times and refrain from all contact with the ball e.g. returning it to the field of play. Spectator groups must be restricted to discrete six-person gathering limits and spread out, in line with wider UK Government guidance.
  • Umpires should refrain from any contact with the ball, it can be returned to the base of the stumps at breaks and wickets.
  • Umpires should be responsible for the stumps closest to them and should be the only person replacing the bails if dislodged.
  • Use of the clubhouse, changing rooms and toilets should adhere to the latest Government advice and be prepared in accordance with the ECB’s guidance on Getting your Clubhouse and Ground Ready for Step 4.
  • Detailed guidance relating to officials has been released by the Association of Cricket Officials (ACO), including appropriate sanctions for participants not adhering to Covid-19 guidance, including but not limited to, player ejection and match cancellation.