The ICC held on for as long as they could before formally calling off the Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament yesterday – a decision that comes as no great surprise as worldwide restrictions due to Covid-19 continue to grip society. Jersey’s senior men were due to meet Bermuda, Hong Kong, Italy, Kenya and Uganda between 3-13 August in the second round of the three-stage league, which feeds into play-offs and the Global Qualifier for the 2023 showpiece.
Shifting the tournament forward to winter 2020 and playing it at a neutral venue, such as Oman or the United Arab Emirates, could be among the potential alternatives, although the ICC may simply opt to delay the event by 12 months to maintain Uganda’s hosting rights.
Either way, MacRae is unconcerned about the threat of limited preparation.
‘We’re still waiting to find out about the full ICC programme for the rest of the year but the players will continue to train individually and as a squad,’ he said. ‘And hopefully they will also get a good volume of competitive club cricket during the summer, to test themselves. We’re in a fortunate position here in that Jersey seems to be reasonably advanced in terms of controlling the virus, compared to some countries, and that will allow us to play some cricket over the next couple of months.
‘When the ICC decide what will be the best way forward we will react quickly and restructure our programmes around that. We expect the tournament to be played at a later date and that’s the only information we’ve got at the moment.’
MacRae added: ‘It’s not unexpected because no international tournament cricket is happening anywhere in the world. It’s in line with what the ICC has decided across the globe. We’ve just got to accept the situation, make the most of the Jersey summer and be ready for what the ICC decide will be the best structure going forward.
‘Everyone is desperate to play cricket again but obviously we’ve got to be careful. The priority is to remain safe and we will be very strict with that.’
Under the ICC’s ‘Back to International Cricket’ protocol individual and small-group sessions will be followed by more structured sessions for up to ten, including the coach. Full cricket-based training can resume for the whole squad at a later point. Measures have been outlined to cover the specifics of training sessions and matches, including the sanitization of equipment, body contact, travel to and from the ground and the use of shared facilities.
Under ‘Back to Play’ guidelines, the ICC suggest ‘regular hand sanitising when in contact with the ball’, while the use of saliva to shine the ball is no longer permitted.