Playing football is simply not cricket - issues with athletes’ insurance against training and warm-up injuries following the Rory Burns case

Playing football is simply not cricket - issues with athletes’ insurance against training and warm-up injuries following the Rory Burns case
Published: Tuesday, 04 February 2020. Written by Nina Goolamali QC, Luka Krsljanin No Comments

Those who avidly follow cricket would be forgiven for having a “groundhog day” moment when the news broke[1] on 2 January 2020 that Rory Burns had injured his left ankle playing football in practice on the eve of the second Test in South Africa.  Burns, who was in very good batting form, was replaced by Kent’s Zak Crawley, which meant the loss of a key player at the top of England’s batting order, not just for the rest of the Test, but for 4 months.  The immediate fallout from the injury has seen England ban the squad from playing football, although how long the ban will subsist and whether it will trickle down to county cricket level long term remains unclear.

The incident may be unfortunate, but it is not uncommon.  Tim Wigmore, in the Telegraph, made a list of Four of England’s stupidest injuries.”[2] It makes grim reading as 2 out of the 4 incidents arose out of playing football. In 2018 Jonny Bairstow twisted his ankle playing football during training on the ODI tour of Sri Lanka, leading to him being ruled out of the last two ODIs and the First Test. Much earlier in 2009, Joe Denly was injured after a tackle by fellow batsman Owais Shah. Andy Flower, England’s coach at the time, reacted by banning football for a period.  And the problem does not just lie in domestic cricket. In 2005, Glenn McGrath sustained a serious ankle injury[3] when he trod on a stray cricket ball left on field whilst he was playing a game of touch rugby in warm up for the Second Test against England.  

Aside from re-igniting the debate about the merits of allowing competitive cricketers to play football in practice sessions, this fresh incident raises interesting questions about liability for rehabilitation costs and the potential insurance implications of injuries sustained in training and warm up sessions.  Accordingly, this article examines some of the key points for teams and players to be aware of.  Specifically, it looks at the following questions:

  • Do team policies cover training injuries?
  • What does “training” include?
    • The importance of making specific disclosures
    • Official training vs. informal “kick-arounds”  
  • Liability for over-zealous or intentional tackles
  • The England Cricket Board’s insurance schemes
  • Summary

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About the Author

Nina Goolamali

Nina Goolamali QC

SILK: 2017 CALL: 1995

Described as “one of the most knowledgeable and personable barristers around”, who is “supremely intelligent” and “just keeps getting better”, Nina has a very well established practice in Sports Law. She took silk in 2017 and is ranked as a Tier 1 Barrister in Sport in the Legal 500 2017.

Nina is highly regarded as a skilled, commercially astute and sensitive advocate and negotiator in complex multi-million pound cases arising in sports disputes.

Nina leads the 2TG Sports Team and has been described in Chambers & Partners as a “sports expert”. She is praised in the Legal 500 for having “unwavering tenacity and determination to get the right result for the client” and “an impressive level of technical knowledge.”

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Luka Krsljanin

Luka Krsljanin

Barrister at 2TG

A self-confident and bright advocate”, who is “very good technically, very thorough and approachable”, Luka is ranked as a leader in the field for his work in Private International Law (Chambers UK).

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