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My test in the bubble: two temperature checks every day, a health questionnaire and ‘Beacon’ trackers

PAUL NEWMAN’S TEST IN THE BUBBLE: Two temperature checks a day, a health questionnaire, ‘Beacon’ trackers and Zoom press conferences … during the defeat of England by the West Indies in the Ageas Bowl

  • Journalists completed questionnaires and had two temperature checks every day
  • Reporters had to be kept away from players, broadcasters and personnel
  • Writers were equipped with Beacon trackers to ensure they didn’t stray
  • Lunch was served at two tables, and there were also Zoom press conferences

It is of course like no other test I have done.

Never before have I had to fill out a health questionnaire and pass two temperature checks every day before I can go into the ground.

And never before have I been kept at a distance from players, broadcasters and anyone but 11 other writers in our own corner of the Shane Warne Stand in the Ageas Bowl.

Paul Newman of Sportsmail at the Ageas Bowl under Covid-19 protocols without crowds

Paul Newman of Sportsmail at the Ageas Bowl under Covid-19 protocols without crowds

And we are also equipped with ‘Beacon’ trackers to ensure that we do not stray outside our zone and that the ECB can track who we have contacted during the test.

Cricket’s own Project Restart has taken biosecure top sport to another level. England, the West Indies, and Sky and BBC broadcasters, of course, have stayed on site at the Hilton Hotel that enabled Test cricket this summer on this well-appointed Hampshire site.

The home side was on the top level of the three-story hotel – and Ben Stokes showed how selfless he was when he handed the captain suite over to a member of the back room staff after Joe Root left it.

West Indies is in the middle and broadcasters on the bottom floor. And none of them should stray to another level.

Journalists had lunch for two at tables to ensure social distance during the first test

Journalists had lunch for two at tables to ensure social distance during the first test

Journalists had lunch for two at tables to ensure social distance during the first test

The 12 written journalists who were lucky enough to be invited were on the other side of the ground and had to battle it out – lunch is served on tables for two to ensure social distance – and Zoom video conference conferences.

Our only visitor to the test was Hampshire President Rod Bransgrove, who has the same ‘outside zone’ status as us and has not even been admitted to the pavilion that bears his name.

We are allowed to go outside after playing, but we have been asked not to visit pubs or restaurants and to take all precautions to ensure that no one can put the virus in the ground. Car sharing is out and public transport is discouraged.

Even the lack of fans didn’t feel too unusual. That just made it a test in Abu Dhabi or Dubai or a warm-up match in England at the start of a tour. Only more intense.

There were no spectators at the Ageas Bowl to watch England lose to the West Indies on day five

There were no spectators at the Ageas Bowl to watch England lose to the West Indies on day five

There were no spectators at the Ageas Bowl to watch England lose to the West Indies on day five

And the whole operation has been a life-saving financial success for the ECB. They are not the only ones to earn credit. Hampshire should definitely get more international cricket if normality returns on their backs.

Sky TV also had an excellent match from its powerful and emotional start on Wednesday, when Michael Holding and Ebony Rainford-Brent had one of the major openings for a sports broadcast.

They then set the agenda on day three, when Stuart Broad ventured into their Big Brother-style diary room to drop some carefully targeted bombs on the English voters.

Cricket is back with a wonderful first test.

Now it’s more Covid tests all round and the show continues on to Manchester.

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