Organisers ponder measures to ensure T20 showpiece comes off

Organisers ponder measures to ensure T20 showpiece comes off

Sunday, April 19, 2020

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Caribbean Premier League (CPL) organisers have alluded to novel social distancing measures which could be implemented to ensure the popular Twenty20 tournament comes off as planned, but say they will only proceed with the staging of the event once it was “safe to do so”.

Pointing to Kensington Oval in Barbados, Chief Operations Officer Pete Russell said the venue was one where the measures could be “viable”, but said there had been no firm decision made as the region continues to battle the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

However, there is a possibility the eighth edition of the tournament could be played without international players and only a few stadiums used as venues, to mitigate against widespread contact.

“That's what people are going to have to look at: how would a stadium look if you were to follow all the guidelines on social distancing,” Russell told Cricinfo.

“Of course it's doable. For instance, in Barbados we would probably be able to do a social distancing stadium, and it could be at 25 per cent capacity – there's a lot of organisation that goes into that but it's viable.

Kensington Oval has been identified as a venue where social distancing measures can be implemented.

“The player side is the important bit. It could be that CPL is played without international players this year, and there's enough Caribbean talent to play without if we have to. That's not our preferred option, but it's doable.”

He added: “And then, obviously, you have to go through the whole medical process. Would you quarantine players, or put them all in the same hotel? How would that all work?

“Even if we don't necessarily use [these plans] this year, it's vitally important that we've done them. That's my biggest focus at the minute.”

The outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted cricket globally and in the Caribbean, with Cricket West Indies forced to abort the domestic first class championship after the eighth round and also scrap or postpone other tournaments.

Currently, the CPL is scheduled to take place from August 19 to September 26, and organisers remain hopeful it can be staged as planned.

Russell said if they were able to push ahead with the tournament it would be a significant achievement for the region, especially in the wake of the cancellations.

Russell said franchise owners were keen on pressing ahead with the tournament and even if it could not be staged during the current window, December remained an option.

“We know that in the West Indies what's good about CPL is that we're employing cricketers and locals, while not many of them are getting paid at the minute. We're an important part of that economic ecosystem as much as we are about playing cricket,” Russell said.

The English-speaking Caribbean has reported hundreds of COVID-19 infections, with the territories which usually host CPL games among the most affected.

Jamaica, for instance, has recorded 143 cases and five deaths while Trinidad and Tobago has recorded 114 cases along with eighth deaths.

Barbados, where the champion Barbados Tridents franchise is based, has reported 75 cases and five deaths.

The COVID-19 virus has already resulted 2.2 million infections globally and nearly 153,000 deaths.

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