England vs India 2021 - Cricket must 'learn to live with Covid, or we will lose players', warns ECB CEO, Tom Harrison

England vs India 2021 – Cricket must ‘learn to live with Covid, or we will lose players’, warns ECB CEO, Tom Harrison

Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, has defended his board’s decision to relax the bio-secure environments that were a feature of England’s behind-closed-doors campaign in the 2020 home season, arguing that the mental health and well-being of the players in its competitions requires the game to “learn to live” with Covid-19, rather than seek to prevent further infections within team environments.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the opening match of the Hundred on July 21, Harrison warned that it was the duty of boards all around the world, and not just in the UK, to take greater heed of the concerns of their players – many of whom have endured months at a time away from their friends and young families in a bid to ensure that the competitions upon which the game’s revenues rely can be safely completed.

However, with concerns already mounting about the viability of England’s five-Test series against India, amid the knock-on effects of Rishabh Pant‘s positive Covid diagnosis and further infections within the India camp, Harrison insisted that all teams would be obliged to “accept some risk” in return for the day-to-day freedoms that enable elite sportsmen and women to produce their best performances.

“We want people feeling good about going out and playing in whatever tournament they’re playing in, whether that’s the Hundred, whether that’s a Test series against India, whether that is county cricket and the RL50,” Harrison said.

“We want people to be feeling like their life is delivering for them, both at home and as professional cricketers, men and women. We don’t want to be closeting players in such a place where they feel like the only role they play in their life is to is to go out and bat and bowl for whatever team they’re playing.”

“I think that’s a bad place for us to be,” Harrison added. “We have to be understanding about what it is to be a responsible employer, to be able to get the best back from players. That’s by treating them like adults, and talking and communicating openly about how we best mitigate the impacts of this ongoing pandemic.”

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