England cricketers face nine-week separation from families to play series

England’s Test cricketers have been told to expect daily temperature checks, regular Covid-19 swabs and possibly nine weeks away from their families under ambitious plans to get the series against West Indies and Pakistan played. While the plan is still fraught with hurdles and subject to guidelines for all sports being approved by central government, there is a growing belief at the England and Wales Cricket Board that the two grounds, with their on-site hotels, could mitigate to an acceptable level the risk of playing behind closed doors. It will also give England scope to rotate their players during a gruelling run of six Tests in just over seven weeks – not least the fast bowlers, who will need their workloads managed – but a good number could spend this extended spell away from loved ones without actually winning a cap. Preventing physical contact in the camp is unrealistic given the sport’s dynamics but the squad will still be expected to observe the physical-distancing instructions in place during their aborted tour of Sri Lanka in March, where handshakes were replaced by fist bumps and hygiene measures were strengthened.