England bowlers to resume individual training from Thursday

England bowlers Stuart Broad (left) and Saqib Mahmood (right) sprint during training in Sri Lanka
Pace bowlers Stuart Broad and Saqib Mahmood were part of England's abandoned tour of Sri Lanka in March

Up to 18 bowlers will take part in staggered sessions across seven grounds from Thursday as the first England players to begin individual training.

Chester-le-Street, Edgbaston, Hove, Old Trafford, Taunton, The Oval and Trent Bridge will each host at least one session this week.

Batsmen and wicketkeepers will return to individual training from 1 June.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) will confirm which players have been invited to train next week.

About 30 players in total - centrally contracted and from the county system - will be invited to train.

The ECB says it expects additional venues will be added to accommodate these sessions and will confirm which grounds are to be used nearer the time.

There will be no cricket in England or Wales until at least 1 July because of the coronavirus pandemic, a shutdown which has meant the postponement of the Test series against West Indies, which was scheduled for June.

With the ECB in talks with Cricket West Indies (CWI) over the rescheduling of those three Tests, England director of cricket Ashley Giles has said the return to training coincides with a seven-week build-up to what could be the start of the series on 8 July.

It is likely that any international cricket that is played this summer - England are also scheduled to host Pakistan, Australia and Ireland - will be played behind closed doors.

For the first training sessions this week, a physio will attend to help social distancing measures being observed, before ECB and selected county coaches will return to sessions from next week.

A coach and a physio will be in attendance when batsmen and wicketkeepers return to individual training.

In line with government advice, each individual must stay two metres apart from anyone else, players and support staff will arrive in kit and have their temperatures taken before the session, while medical staff will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) sourced and funded by the ECB.

The ECB said other key principles of individual training include regular hand washing, cleaning equipment with disinfectant wipes and players bringing their own kit, including assigned cricket balls.

If bowlers bowl into an empty net they must pick up their own ball, while if they bowl into a mitt, the coach must wear their own mitt and a disposable glove on the other hand.

The ECB also said players will not be allowed to use saliva or sweat on the ball.

The International Cricket Council is set to ban players from using saliva to shine the ball when the sport resumes but said the application of sweat will still be allowed.

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