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." 

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. 

India seamer Mohammed Shami said his family made him realise he had to "fight back" when he was contemplating suicide.

Shami recently revealed during an Instagram live chat with team-mate Rohit Sharma that he thought about ending his life three times a few years ago.

The 29-year-old was tormented by personal problems and was also suffering from a knee injury, but has been able to come through some dark days.

Shami had company 24 hours a day during such difficult times and is grateful for the support his family provided.

"Depression is a problem that needs attention. It was unfortunate to see such a brilliant actor like Sushant Singh Rajput lose his life," Shami told the Hindustan Times.

"He was a friend and I wish I could talk to him had I known about his mental condition. In my case, my family pulled me out of that low phase.

"They took care of me and made me realise that I needed to fight back. There were times I felt suicidal but my family ensured I was never alone.

"Someone or the other would always be around, talking to me. Spirituality also helps you seek answers. Talking to your close ones or counselling is the best way out."

Shami says his international team-mates also played a part in helping him through a tough period in his life.

"Mental pressure definitely interferes in your physical wellbeing. At the same time, if you seek help from others and talk about it, you can get rid of such issues off the field," he added. 

"I was lucky to have the team's support staff along with Virat Kohli and other players backing me. We are like a family.

"My team-mates always insisted I vent my anger and frustration out on the field. I am happy that phase is over."

Justin Langer has compared telling Australia batting coach Graeme Hick he was being made redundant to facing Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh without a box or helmet.

Hick was among 40 members of staff to be laid off by Cricket Australia on Wednesday in cost-cutting measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Former England batsman Hick had been on the coaching staff since 2016.

Australia head coach likened giving Hick the bad news to not being fully protected with former West Indies paceman Ambrose and Walsh charging in.

"Having to tell Graeme Hick yesterday morning was like facing Ambrose and Walsh without a helmet and a box on," Langer said.

"He's become a really good mate, his work ethic is second to none, his experience as a cricket person and his integrity, you couldn't meet a nicer person.

"We're going to have to lead a smaller staff but we'll get the job done and we'll be ready when cricket resumes.

"[The players] have been supported brilliantly for a long time and there's no reason they won't be able to be supported equally as well."

Langer says Australia are preparing to return to the field in September, but he stated it is too early to commit to a tour of England.

"I'm not sure when the soonest is. There's obviously complexities to all these things," the former opening batsman added.

"Same with England. I'd imagine it's really important for English cricket that the Australian cricket team goes there if we can. But it's not as simple as that.

"With isolation periods and preparation then when we come back [and] when the ICC make the decision in July about the World Cup.

"Then if the IPL is going on, there's so many moving parts at the moment. What I know is we'll focus on being ready for early September."

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani does not believe it is realistic to expect the Twenty20 World Cup to be staged this year.

The competition in Australia is due to start on October 18, but it appears it may be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings said it would be "unrealistic" and "very, very difficult" for the World Cup to go ahead as scheduled.

Mani is also struggling to see how it would be possible for the event to take place this year.

He said: "In my opinion I think [the World Cup] will probably be deferred for a year. The ICC [International Cricket Council] has time because ICC events were supposed to happen in 2020, 2021 and 2023.

"The gap in the middle can be filled and this will be deferred. That is where the talk is headed towards. What event will happen first and where, those talks are happening.

"It is a big risk that God forbid, in the middle of a big tournament, if a player gets an infection, the panic from that will be too much so we can't take that risk."

He added: "The biggest challenge in Australia - although Australia and New Zealand they have controlled Covid-19 - their governments are very cautious.

"If it is played this year they will likely insist it happens in a bio-bubble. Like with the Pakistan team in England, teams come, stay in a hotel, with no crowds.

"This is okay for one or two teams but when 12-16 teams play in a T20 tournament, it becomes an impossible thing. I don't think it is feasible today that there is any ICC event in 2020."

Mani expects a decision to be made within four weeks.

He said: "Cricket boards are one stakeholder. Another stakeholder is the broadcaster - Star is the broadcaster, they will see their position, what is better for them.

"Other than full members, associates also get money from ICC events so discussions are on with as to what their priorities are.

"But you'll see that in the next three-four weeks a decision will be taken on this. There is a conference call next week. We've had four-five con calls on this in the last month.

"Obviously a decision will have to be made about where the first event will be. Right now it was to be Australia, then India and then a gap of one year and then India for the World Cup.

"Now we have to see whether it will be Australia first, or India, to see who will host in 2022."

Sarfaraz Ahmed feels he can thrive without the pressure of being captain after earning a Pakistan recall for the tour of England.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has not played for his country since he was axed as skipper last October.

Yet Sarfaraz was this week included in a 29-man squad for three Tests and as many Twenty20 Internationals against England in August and September.

And the 33-year-old, who is back-up to Mohammad Rizwan, is relishing being able to concentrate on his own game without the extra responsibility.

"Obviously it was tough to absorb the fact that I was the captain as well as a regular member and then suddenly, I am nowhere," said Sarfaraz.

"You do get upset but I couldn't really dwell on it too much, because I was fortunate that I had domestic cricket there and then came PSL. So, most of the time, I remained busy.

"Then in this free time in the last three months in quarantine, I got time to reflect and improve my fitness to be ready for any opportunity.

"When you are captain in any format, it definitely brings a lot of pressure on you and this is why it's a big responsibility. When you were playing cricket non-stop without a break, relentlessly, then these breaks really help you.

"I've been talking to Misbah [ul-Haq, the Pakistan head coach] and he was urging me to utilise this time to work smartly to improve my fitness and reflect on what I have been doing wrong.

"When you are captain you basically think differently - more about the team than yourself. Your main focus is on the team result and performances, and in all this you spent more time supporting your players.

"But now I don't have that added responsibility and I will be thinking exclusively how I can play my part as a player in any situation where I am needed.

"Overall, I realised that this seven or eight-month gap away from the national team has helped me rediscover myself as player."

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is determined to "deliver meaningful and long-term change" after acknowledging sport is "not immune" to systemic racism.

George Floyd's death while in police custody in Minneapolis last month led to protests in the United States and far beyond.

Former England batsman Michael Carberry this week stated that cricket is "rife with racism" and "black people are not important to the structure of English cricket".

James Anderson, England's leading Test wicket-taker, said the national team will have conversations about what they can do to make a stand and be more active in combating racism.

The ECB says it will listen and learn from the Black Lives Matter movement and will act in a bid to break down barriers.

"We have listened carefully to those who have spoken out in recent weeks about their experiences of being black in cricket, sport and society," the governing body said in a statement.

"We admire them for being vocal on this crucial topic. We know that systemic racism spans institutions and sectors across the country and we know that our sport is not immune.

"We truly believe that cricket is a game for everyone but understand that sadly, barriers to its enjoyment exist for many communities. We have made progress in bringing cricket to more and more people around the country and it is our resolve to break down barriers and reform our structures everywhere across the game.

"In recent weeks we have reflected, and acknowledge that black players and fans, who have contributed so much to the history of our game, now feel disenfranchised. They do not feel as if cricket is a game for them. This must change.

"That is why it's so important that we continue to listen to the voices of those who have spoken out, to educate ourselves and face uncomfortable truths in order to create action internally and throughout the game, to ensure long-term change.

"We will now work to engage community leaders and black influencers within cricket so that we can review and evolve our existing inclusion and diversity work and specifically address the issues raised by the black community.

"From there, it is our overall desire to create demonstrable action, in order to deliver meaningful and long-term change that permeates every layer of the game."

World cricket chiefs have approved a ban on using saliva to polish the ball and backed the introduction of coronavirus substitutes.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) gave its approval amid a raft of interim changes to regulations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting sport.

Rules on kit sponsorship have also been relaxed for 12 months, allowing teams to bring in extra revenue through placing a logo on the chest of their Test shirt and sweater.

There has been no international cricket since March due to the health crisis and the global governing body is keen to mitigate risks posed by the virus, protecting the safety of players and match officials.

Bowlers traditionally apply saliva to the ball to make it swing, but they will have to rely on sweat when the sport returns, with the use of any artificial substance already outlawed.

The saliva ban was passed despite a number of players, including former Australia captain Steve Smith, suggesting it would give batsmen an advantage.

Repeatedly breaching the new rule could result in teams receiving a five-run penalty.

An ICC statement read: "Players will not be permitted to use saliva to shine the ball. If a player does apply saliva to the ball, the umpires will manage the situation with some leniency during an initial period of adjustment for the players, but subsequent instances will result in the team receiving a warning.

"A team can be issued up to two warnings per innings but repeated use of saliva on the ball will result in a five-run penalty to the batting side.

"Whenever saliva is applied to the ball, the umpires will be instructed to clean the ball before play recommences."

Among the other changes will be the introduction of coronavirus replacements for Tests, but not Twenty20 internationals or ODIs.

If a player displays symptoms of COVID-19 during a Test series, teams will be allowed to replace them with "the nearest like-for-like replacement".

The ICC has also removed the requirement for a neutral umpire in all formats, due to restrictions on international travel.

With this perhaps leading to the use of officials with less international experience, an additional unsuccessful DRS review will be granted.

"This will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals per innings for each team to three for Tests and two for the white-ball formats," said the ICC.

"The ICC cricket operations team will support match referees when processing code of conduct breaches, and a neutral elite panel match referee will conduct any hearing remotely via video link."

Steve Smith believes playing in the Indian Premier League later this year would be an enjoyable alternative option if the T20 World Cup is postponed.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) last week stated it is still planning for the World Cup to start in Australia on October 18, but other options are being explored due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that the competition will be put back to next year, with the IPL - which could not get under way as scheduled in March - taking place instead of the global event.

Smith, who returned to training with New South Wales on Monday, would prefer to play in a World Cup, but the former Australia captain would also relish the opportunity to lead the Rajasthan Royals later this year. 

The top-ranked Test batsman in the world said: "I think when you're playing for your country at a World Cup, that's the pinnacle for one-day or T20 cricket, so of course I'd prefer to play in that.

"But if that doesn't happen and the IPL's there, and they postpone [the T20 World Cup], then so be it. IPL's also a terrific tournament as a domestic tournament. 

"That's out of everyone's control at the moment, players are just doing what we're told and going where we need to go and playing whatever's on at that stage.

"I guess there'll be some more news about it soon, probably some decisions to be made soon, so I'm sure we'll all find out and know where we're going to be.

"I personally haven't really thought about it, I think it'd just be going off the advice of the professionals and the governments and essentially doing what we're told.

"If that happens then great, if not then there's just so much going on in the world right now that cricket kind of seems a little bit irrelevant. So, we'll get back when we're told to and until then it's sit tight, get fit and strong and freshen up mentally."

Cricket Australia are also considering a request from the England and Wales Cricket Board to tour England for a limited-overs series in September, two months later than planned.

A 13-man Sri Lanka squad will start a 12-day residential training camp in Colombo on Monday.

The players and four members of the coaching team and support staff will be based at the Colombo Cricket Club for just under a fortnight.

They will stay in a hotel throughout the camp and have strict health regulations to adhere on their return after a lockdown was imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The players called up were not named, but Cricket Sri Lanka stated they were primarily bowlers and the squad covers all formats.

They will undergo conditioning work after a lengthy spell without playing early in the Mickey Arthur era.

Sri Lanka are awaiting confirmation over whether they will host India and Bangladesh in June or July when they get the green light to play again.

Umar Akmal is a step closer to learning when an appeal against his three-year cricket ban will be heard after an independent adjudicator was appointed.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Sunday that former Supreme Court judge Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokhar would hear the appeal.

Announcing the appointment, the PCB said: "The independent adjudicator will now decide on the date of the appeal hearing. As soon as this is confirmed, the PCB will make the announcement."

Akmal was issued with his ban from all cricket in April, after two alleged breaches of the PCB's anti-corruption code.

The limited-overs specialist, now 30, was accused of "failing to disclose to the PCB vigilance and security department (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the participant to engage in corrupt conduct under this anti-corruption code".

Akmal, who was provisionally suspended on February 20, could have faced a lifetime ban.

The batsman has played 121 ODIs and 84 Twenty20 Internationals, also featuring in 16 Tests between 2009 and 2011.

Meanwhile, the PCB waved goodbye to several leading figures from within its ranks on Sunday, amid a slew of personnel changes within the organisation and the national cricket academy.

"Mudassar Nazar, Haroon Rashid, Mushtaq Ahmed and Agha Zahid finish their innings at the PCB today," the board said on Twitter.

"While the PCB thanks and wishes them well, it also welcomes Nadeem Khan, Saqlain Mushtaq, Grant Bradburn and Asser Malik."

Grant Flower expects Pakistan run machine Babar Azam to "break a lot of records" but fears there is a danger he could regret taking over as captain.

Babar is the top-ranked Twenty20 international batsman in the world and has established himself as one of the best players on the planet in all formats.

The 25-year-old was named T20I skipper last October and also took the ODI captaincy this month.

Flower recognised the elegant right-hander was a special talent when he first started working with him as Pakistan batting coach and believes he is destined for greatness.

He told Stats Perform News: "Babar is brilliant.

"The first time I saw him play and first time I worked with him - when I threw balls at him at the academy in Lahore - he picked up length so much quicker than the rest of the players and I think that's the hallmark of a great batsman.

"If you look at some of the best players in the world like Steve Smith, Virat Kohli et cetera, they pick up length really quickly and play the ball late, have a great eye and hand-eye coordination. He has that and I think he is going to break a lot of records.

"Even in T20 cricket he plays normal cricket shots and that is also the sign of a great player. As long as he stays humble, which I'm sure he will as he's a good bloke, there is no reason why he can't be one of the best and he already pretty much is."

Sri Lanka batting coach Flower hopes Babar thrives as a leader but fears his form could suffer due to the extra pressure on his shoulders.

The former Zimbabwe all-rounder said: "He's got a good cricketing brain but there's a lot of politics in Pakistan cricket and a lot of pressure from the public.

"If you start losing, it's one thing being the best batsman but that will put pressure on your batting skills and it can all come tumbling down pretty quickly.

"We've seen with great players in the past the pressures that captaincy can bring, but some players get better and if he gets better then the world is his oyster. Time will tell.

"But he seems pretty positive about it, I read what he said in an interview when he got the captaincy. I wish him all the best and hopefully all positives come with that."

 

- Grant Flower was speaking on behalf of The Conservation Games, a first-of-its-kind initiative from the Zambesia Conservation Alliance. To watch Grant in action, visit and subscribe to the Conservation Games channel on YouTube.

Grant Flower believes Sri Lanka possess the "flair" to be contenders to win a Twenty20 World Cup that he expects to be rescheduled.

Flower took the role of batting coach when Mickey Arthur was appointed Sri Lanka head coach on a two-year deal last December.

The new coaching team have not had much time to work with the players since taking over due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they are due to resume training next Monday.

Flower is optimistic the Arthur era will be a success and feels Sri Lanka can be a real threat at the next major tournament in Australia, which he believes will start later than October 18 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

He told Stats Perform News: "I suppose the beauty of T20 cricket is it can be quite hit and miss, so it's a lot easier to topple the big teams than it would be over, say, a five-day game.

"It is much more of a test of all of your skills put together in a five-day match, but in a T20 you can have a great game where a couple of your key players come off, you can be the best, so hopefully our skill levels can come through.

"They have always been good with the white ball, through a bit of innovation and their flair, a bit like the Pakistanis, so hopefully that continues."

The International Cricket Council on Wednesday denied reports that the World Cup has been postponed, but Flower is anticipating the showpiece will be put back.

"I'm always optimistic, but whether or not it happens or whether they decide to have an IPL before... I can see the T20 World Cup getting pushed back to maybe the end of the year. From what I've heard so far that's probably the way to go."

Former Zimbabwe all-rounder Flower wants to see senior Sri Lanka players realise their potential and reap the rewards of the faith that has been shown in them over the years.

He added: "There's a lot of enthusiasm here and the guys are skilful, it just needs a bit of structure and a lot of hard work, but I don't see any reason why we shouldn't have a good run here and get some decent results.

"A lot of the guys are at stages in their careers where a lot of investment has been put in them and they've been around for a while working with some good coaches, so hopefully that pays dividends."

 

- Grant Flower was speaking on behalf of The Conservation Games, a first-of-its-kind initiative from the Zambesia Conservation Alliance. To watch Grant in action, visit and subscribe to the Conservation Games Channel on YouTube.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has denied reports that the Men's T20 World Cup in Australia has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that the tournament, due to begin on October 18, will be put back to next year.

The ICC responded on Wednesday by insisting that is not the case and it is planning for the competition to go ahead as scheduled, but continuing to explore alternative options. 

A statement from the governing body said: "Reports of a postponement of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 are inaccurate and planning for the event continues whilst a number of contingency plans are being explored in light of the rapidly changing public health situation caused by the COVID-19 virus."

The ICC also revealed no decision has been made over the process for naming a successor to chairman Shashank Manohar, who steps down this month. 

"The ICC Board met yesterday to discuss the process for electing the next chair of the ICC," the statement continued.

"No final decision was taken regarding the election process and the subject will be discussed further at the next ICC Board meeting on Thursday.

"The existing chair confirmed he was not seeking any extension to his term but would support the Board to ensure a smooth transition."

Sri Lankan bowler Shehan Madushanka has been banned from all formats of cricket after he was arrested for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

Madushanka, who took a hat-trick in his only ODI against Bangladesh in 2018, was suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) and faces an inquiry.

An SLC statement said: "Sri Lanka Cricket decided to suspend Shehan Madushanka from all forms of cricket, with immediate effect.

"The decision was taken following the player was arrested by the police and later sent on remand custody for alleged possession of illegal drugs.

"The decision to suspend will remain intact until a full inquiry is conducted by the SLC into the matter."

Madushanka also played in two Twenty20 internationals two years ago before being troubled by injuries.

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) director of cricket Graeme Smith believes there is a "very good chance" the T20 World Cup will go ahead early in 2021.

The event, which is scheduled to take place in Australia between October 18 and November 15 this year, remains in doubt due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Smith says the Proteas are preparing for all eventualities.

"If it does get postponed, we're looking at February or March next year," he told reporters on Thursday.

"We are consistently looking at strategies for tours, what the FTP [Future Tours Programme] looks like, what our focus is going to be over the next period of time.

"We'll have to assess players on form, as was always going to be the case. When that event comes around, we will look at what the best squad is that we could possibly send to give us an opportunity to win the trophy.

"I think the key at the moment, across the board from players to coaches and operational staff, is to try and make sure that we're ready for when the opportunity arises to play cricket again and then we'll have to assess players quickly.

"The hope was that we would have 14 T20 games before the World Cup in October and that's not going to happen anymore. There is a very good chance it's going to be shifted into the beginning of next year, so we'll have to consistently assess.

"There are so many things up in the air, so the key is just to be ready."

CSA CEO Jacques Faul believes delaying the tournament would not necessarily have a huge financial impact.

"The T20 World Cups gets sold and the money is essentially distributed to the members," he said. 

"I don't think a delay in the tournament would lead to a cut of that funding. As long as it takes place within the same financial year, then it should be fine. 

"If it doesn't take place or if it is delayed for a longer period, then it would have an impact."

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