Recreational cricket returns in England from July 11, but it will look very different to what we have come to know and love.

As clubs and players get set for their first run-out of 2020, The Cricketer answers questions about what the new ECB guidelines will mean to the cricket experience, and what you need to do to ensure the recreational game is played in as safe a way as possible.

If I have experienced symptoms of Covid-19, is it okay for me to play recreational cricket?

No. If you or anyone in your household has displayed symptoms you must self-isolate for a period of 14 days, order a test and contact NHS Test & Trace. You should not make yourself available for selection, nor should any other members of your household.

Can I drive a teammate to a match?

Individuals from different households should not share a vehicle unless absolutely necessary, as per current government guidelines. In the event that carpooling is essential, the vehicle should be well ventilated and all occupants should wear masks.

Should I bring my own hand sanitiser to games?

Yes. All recreational players should bring sanitiser to every game they play. Additionally, clubs should provide hand-washing points in communal areas and keep a supply of sanitiser.

Can I share equipment?

The ECB advise against the sharing of kit. Helmets and gloves are the most at-risk pieces of cricket equipment when it comes to the transmission of Covid-19. If it is absolutely necessary to share kit, it should be disinfected after use and should only be handled after washing your hands.

How many people can be involved in a game?

11-a-side matches are permitted under the new guidelines, with a maximum of 30 people allowed to be involved - including players, umpires, scorers and coaches.

Is there a limit on how many overs can be bowled in an innings?

No. Clubs can play any format they wish.

How regularly should I wash my hands during the game?

ECB guidelines say a hygiene break should be implemented every 20 minutes for all players involved in the game to sanitise their hands.

Do I need to wear a face mask before, during or after the match?

There is no obligation for recreational cricketers to wear a facemask before, during or after a match, though it is advisable to do so in well-populated undercover areas.

I’m a wicketkeeper… can I stand up to the stumps?

Yes. Within the ECB guidelines, special mention is given to wicketkeepers standing up to the stumps. Although it might strictly contradict the official metre-plus rule for social distancing, it is permitted. 

Do the slips have to abide by the metre-plus social distancing rule?

No. The ECB guidelines stipulate slips do not necessarily have to be one metre or more apart, though health experts encourage the practice.

Can I use sweat or saliva to shine the ball?

No. The use of saliva and sweat to shine the ball is strictly prohibited. Saliva in particular acts as a potent vector for transmission of Covid-19.

Players should refrain from spitting or washing out their mouths anywhere around the venue.

Can the ball be thrown around the fielding side between deliveries?

ECB guidelines state that ball-to-hand contact should be minimised between deliveries. Ideally, it should be thrown back to the bowler directly by the wicketkeeper.

Do I need to disinfect my kit after use?

Yes. Batsmen should sanitise their bats after leaving the wicket, regardless of whether or not it is shared equipment. Wicketkeepers should do the same with their gloves. 

Can I give my jumper or sunglasses to the umpire?

No. Any item which the bowler wishes to discard during an over should be placed by the bowler on the boundary’s edge.

How do we keep score?

One designated scorer should be assigned for the match, and scorebooks should not be passed between players. If there is a need for two scorers, social distancing should be maintained. Scoreboxes should be kept well ventilated.

Can we celebrate a wicket?

High fives, hugs, handshakes and other celebrations that cannot be successfully completed while social distancing should be avoided. Improvise. Innovate. 

Should we throw the ball back to the umpire after a wicket falls?

No. At the fall of a wicket, the ball should be placed at the foot of the stumps or returned to the bowler. Umpires should minimise their contact with the ball.

Who should put the wicket back together in the event of the bails being dislodged?

The umpire standing closest to the stumps in question should be the only person responsible for reassembling the wicket at any time during the game.

What happens if someone needs first aid during a game?

All clubs should provide the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for the safe delivery of first aid, such as facemasks or gloves.

If it rains, can we stay dry in the pavilion?

ECB guidelines say players can congregate under covered areas only if social distancing can be successfully maintained. In the event the pavilion or clubhouse is too small, players should return to their cars during a rain interruption. 

How do we operate the covers in the event of rain?

Multiple players can push covers onto the pitch, providing they maintain a one-metre plus social distance. All involved should sanitise their hands immediately after the task is complete.

Can we have teas?

No. As per government guidance, shared meals should not be provided or consumed during cricket matches. Water bottles and other containers should not be shared. Those taking part should bring their own refreshments with them to the ground.

Can we stay for a beer?

Yes. Clubhouse bars can open, with strict social distancing protocols in place. Anyone staying behind after games should remain at least one metre apart from anyone else who is not in their household. Clubs must keep a register of all those participating in cricket activity, and their contact details, for a 21-day period in order to assist NHS Track & Trace where necessary.

Can spectators watch?

Yes, as long as they abide by social distancing rules. Groups of no more than six people may watch from the boundary. Clubs should mark out areas around the edge of the area of play to separate groups. Spectators should not touch the ball - for instance, if the ball crosses the boundary nearby a spectator should wait for a member of the fielding side to retrieve it, rather than returning it to the field of play themselves.

Can we play indoor cricket?

No. The relaxation of restrictions applies only to outdoor sport. No indoor sporting facilities, including indoor nets, should be opened.

Will there be sanctions for anyone not abiding by Covid-secure measures?

Yes. The Association of Cricket Officials will release details of these penalties shortly. They will include the possibility of players being ejected from the game or matches being abandoned.

The following advice is specific to committees and groundstaff

Do we need to undergo a risk assessment of our ground?

Yes. A full risk assessment should be completed and measures put in place to counter potentially compromising situations.

Do we need to provide extra first aid equipment?

Yes. Relevant personal protective equipment - such as facemasks, visors and gloves - should be provided for the safe application of first aid.

Do we need to provide additional hand-washing facilities?

Yes. All clubs should have a supply of hand sanitiser. All players should bring their own to each game, but there should be adequate hand-washing stations around every venue.

Are additional parking measures necessary?

Yes. Clubs should identify, where possible, a traffic flow system and ensure that parking arrangements allow for the application of social distancing.

Do we need to add any additional pitch markings?

Yes. Groundskeepers should mark running lines on the square in line with the popping crease at two-metre intervals on either side of the wicket.

Do we need to keep a record of those who attend?

Yes. Clubs should register who has used the facilities and their contact details for a rolling 21-day period. This should apply to anyone taking part in the match, in a playing, umpiring or coaching capacity, and anyone who accesses a clubhouse.