SOMERSET County Cricket Club's players have returned to training ahead of the 2021 season, with a programme adjusted to adhere with the new government guidelines on Covid-19.

While the current lockdown means that fixtures and training have been suspended for grassroots sports including football and rugby, there is an exemption for professional athletes.

One of the circumstances listed by the government, which allows people to meet in larger groups, is "for elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) - or those on an official elite sports pathway - to compete and train".

While the lockdown has had an impact on Somerset's training plans, head coach Jason Kerr has confirmed that the players were able to recommence training today (Friday), following tests for Covid-19 which all came back negative.

Kerr told the club website: "We are in the incredibly fortunate position of being able to train at the moment.

"Everyone was tested for Covid-19 yesterday and I’m pleased to say that all those tests came back negative.

"That allows us to commence training today with a view to starting in earnest on Monday, with a full and comprehensive programme which has obviously been adjusted slightly in order to make sure that everyone is adhering to the government and ECB guidelines.

"We had a long virtual staff meeting during which Andy Hurry [director of cricket] took us through what we can and can’t do.

"That looked at absolutely every detail, including how we enter and exit the [Cooper Associates County] Ground.

"No kit is allowed to be stored on site, so the guys are literally coming in, doing what needs to be done and then leaving.

"There’s no social interaction and no-one is permitted to loiter around the environment.

“Everything is being cleaned and wiped down after every use, all the staff are wearing PPE and social distancing restrictions are being strictly enforced.

"There are also consequences for anyone who doesn’t adhere to the guidelines.

"Anyone not sticking to the rules will find themselves removed from the environment for a period of time.”

Kerr added that training plans haven't had to be adapted too much, allowing the players to build on the hard work put in before Christmas.

"As things stand we are able to keep building and working towards our goal of hopefully playing competitive cricket at the back end of March," he said.


JACK Leach and Craig Overton, meanwhile, have been in action as part of an England inter-squad match ahead of next week's first Test against Sri Lanka.

Both Leach and Overton were selected for 'Team Root', to take on two former Somerset players in Dom Bess and Jos Buttler (part of 'Team Buttler').

Following Moeen Ali's positive test for Covid-19, further tests have revealed no new cases in the rest of the touring party, allowing this two-day game to go ahead in Hambantota.

England skipper Joe Root made 74* as his team reached 184-2 from 50 overs, after which Team Buttler were allowed time to bat.

Wickets were soon tumbling, as James Anderson dismissed Jonny Bairstow and Buttler from successive deliveries to leave them 12-3.

Leach then claimed two wickets of his own, accounting for Ben Foakes (21) and his fellow spin bowler - and former club team-mate - Bess (3).

Team Buttler closed on 120-6 after 38 overs, 64 runs behind Team Root.

The first Test begins in Galle next Thursday (January 14).