CSM Live, the live experience division of the CSM Sport and Entertainment agency, has been appointed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to aid the governing body in its development of a bio-secure return to the game.

Working closely with the ECB as England prepares for its forthcoming Test series against the West Indies, CSM Live has helped to design a bio-secure environment at the Ageas Bowl (main picture) in Southampton, Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester and training venues in Worcester (New Road, second picture) and Derby (Incora County Ground), in order for international cricket to be played safely when it returns on July 8.

The ECB last month chose Emirates Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl to host the three-Test series against the West Indies, behind closed doors. The series was originally due to take place at Lord’s and The Kia Oval in London, and Edgbaston in Birmingham, from June 4-29 but was postponed due to COVID-19.

The ECB was forced to reassess its options and the homes of Lancashire and Hampshire were chosen mainly due to the grounds featuring on-site hotels. The first Test will take place at the Ageas Bowl from July 8-12, followed by back-to-back Tests at Emirates Old Trafford from July 16-20 and July 24-28.

CSM Live’s remit for the ECB was the design and delivery of infrastructural requirements which include health check and sanitisation points for personnel, vehicle screen areas, welfare units, perimeter fencing, temporary walling, temporary accreditation checkpoints, as well as the production of all wayfinding and signage at the venues.

These measures have been implemented to ensure that all stakeholders maintain a strict discipline of separation whilst on site. The venue is divided into zones with limited access to each zone (player/media/venue operations), which in some cases requires physical barriers, heath checks and new routes around the stadium.

CSM has a long history of work in cricket with the ECB. This includes Test matches, the T20 Blast and The Hundred, the new limited overs competition which was due to launch this year but has now been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.

CSM Live CEO Alastair Bewick said: “These are exceptionally challenging times and the return to ‘behind closed doors’ has been unlike anything we’ve seen before. Everybody wants to get back into stadiums and here the absolute priority is to reduce the risk of infection between all teams required to get cricket playing again.

“The ECB has proved that a co-ordinated strategy between all stakeholders can create a bio-secure venue. This does not eliminate every risk, but the measures implemented by the ECB and CSM Live make live sport a reality in difficult circumstances.

“The learnings from this phase will be the foundations for getting spectators back. How they are managed is complicated and needs consideration – it will require resources from the wider event industry but that journey has started.”

Earlier this week, the ECB gave its approval for the men’s county season to begin on August 1, with options for both red-ball and white-ball competitions up for discussion.

Phil Williams, ECB senior events presentation manager, added: “CSM Live is a trusted partner whose consultancy and seamless delivery has been pivotal to us reaching the point we all wanted to reach – the return to international cricket.

“Together with CSM Live we have carefully considered the additional infrastructural requirements, new processes and implementation solutions, and they have helped us to deliver a set of measures aimed at preventing the introduction and/or spread of coronavirus under extremely challenging circumstances.

“These have included limited planning and production time, restrictions around travel to and from the sites, and regularly changing medical protocols which affected the infrastructure.”

Images: CSM Live