LAHORE-The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will spend around Rs 15 million on the testing of players, their support personnel and match officials during the 2020-21 domestic season, which kicks off with the National T20 Cup on September 30 with the first round matches in Multan and second round in Rawalpindi from October 9-18. 

Director – High Performance Nadeem Khan on Tuesday said each player in the National T20 Cup, National U19 Three-Day and One-Day competitions, Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament would undergo tests, at least, twice in the lead up to the tournaments. The players are also expected to undergo random tests during the tournaments. 

The PCB has already announced 192 players for the 1st and 2nd XI events, while each of the six U19 Cricket Association sides are likely to comprise 20 players apiece (120 players in total). In addition to this, player support personnel and match officials will also undergo Covid-19 tests as per the protocols, which are being fine-tuned and likely to be confirmed later this week. 

“Due to the pandemic, this is an additional cost but the PCB is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the players, support personnel and match officials. Therefore, the PCB is happy to make this investment. “There is nothing more important than the health and safety of all involved in the competition and the PCB will fulfill all its obligations and responsibilities towards all the competitors as part of its duty of care,” Nadeem said. 

“All those involved in the competition will hold their first tests in their respective cities, while the PCB will conduct second round of tests on those who will join the squads following the first negative tests. The PCB will reimburse costs of the first tests. “The minimum cost of a Covid-19 test is Rs 6,000 and if you calculate number of tests to be conducted during the season, the overall cost will be around Rs 15 million.

“The other operational costs, including travel buses and team hotels, which are part of the bio-secure bubble, are on top of the testing expenditure. “This is an unusual and unprecedented situation and I am proud that we have not only announced the schedule of the 2020-21 domestic cricket season but are also on the verge of launching it. This will be a challenging season and I am aware everything will not work clock-wise, but we remain optimistic and confident, and willing to learn and improve as we progress in the season. 

Nadeem also said that the players, who traveled to England for three Tests and as many T20Is for a tour which stretched seven weeks, have been allowed to join their respective domestic sides on September 25 so they can spend time with their families. “It is a commonsense approach to accept the players’ request, who spent nearly 10 weeks in England in a bio-secure environment. This additional time will help them spend more quality time with their families, recharge their batteries and return to competitive cricket with full force,” Nadeem said. 

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 testing process of the players and player support personnel for the 2020-21 domestic season began here on Monday. “Since squad members of the First XI, Second XI and U19 teams are spread all over the country, it was logistically unfeasible to conduct their Covid-19 tests under the supervision of the PCB’s medical team. Hence, they will get their first tests done themselves and the board will reimburse the cost,” he said and added: “All of the squad members will undergo the second Covid-19 tests at the PCB-designated central stations, which will be conducted by the PCB’s medical team.”