Like any other sporting event international cricket has also come to standstill for COVID19 pandemic avalanching. Many bilateral series have been either deferred or suspended, domestic cricket leagues. PSL could not be completed, IPL 2020 is in uncertainty.
At this moment ICC T20 World cup scheduled to be played in Australia in October 2020 is in the womb of uncertainty. However England and Australia have started taking some initiatives for preparing their cricketers with strict surveillance of health safety measures. COVID 19 pandemic management situation in Australia is under complete control. Australian government is gradually relaxing their semi lockdown situation. Pandemic situation in England is slowly improving. Like English Football League Cricket in England may not be far provided these countries do not experience a second wave of COVID19 surge. New Zealand has been declared COVID 19 free country. This is raising hope for cricket returning to Balckcaps land in not too distant future.
However, situation in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are still not within control. Though India is desperate to get back to Cricket, specially they are keen about IPL. But other than Kerala situation in other states are worsening day by day. Situation in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are deteriorating. Sri Lanka situation was relatively better but over the last few days it started deteriorating. We are not very sure that COVID19 situation in South Africa and West Indies are still conducive for International or domestic cricket. Let us have a view of latest situation from Worlddometer (1st June 2020)
COVID 19 Rankings of ICC Full Member Countries
Ranking Country Cases Deaths
5th UK 2,74,762 38,489
7th India 1,90,609 5,408
18th Pakistan 68,496 1,483
21st Bangladesh 47,153 650
28th South Africa 32,683 683
34th Ireland 24,990 1,652
45th Afghanistan 15,205 257
63rd Australia 7,195 103
98th Sri Lanka 1,663 10
101st New Zealand 1,504 22
160th Zimbabwe 174 04
West Indian countries are listed separately. But these countries like Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad are not much affected.
COVID 19 has impacted 215 countries across all continent. Still no vaccine has been invented and approved .WHO has not approved for use any particular medicine. Staying at home, maintaining social distancing, using masks, gloves and PPEs still remain the way to go.
In the above situation even if the domestic or international bilateral cricket resumes at all soon, it has to be under strict monitoring and surveillance. We are unsure when International flights will resume in business as usual mode. World cup type events will require air travel from several countries, hotel accommodation of teams in cities where games will be held. In such situation it is highly unlikely that ICC T20 World Cup in Australia would go ahead .ICC may take final decision on 7th June 2020. BCCI and CA are looking forward for the Indian Tour of Australia in the Australian Summer. India is ready to come even if the players have to be quarantined for 14 days on arrival. At this stage it appears that even if the series goes ahead the teams may have to play in empty stadiums. Can you imagine Boxing Day Test played at MCG without 98,000 cheering?
ICC is having zoom meetings. They have proposed for few regulations for future cricket. There have been mixed reactions from the players. The key proposals are
• Bowlers or players can not use saliva to moisten the ball.
• Bowlers and Fielders can not hand over their caps or pull overs to the umpires
• Wicket keeper has to maintain social distance behind the wicket
• Closing fielders has to maintain social distance as well.
• Bowlers can not celebrate wickets or batsman can not celebrate milestones .
• No player can the leave the field during the game unless injured
We have noticed some reactions already. Bowlers using use saliva to the ball for keeping one side shining. It helps both traditional and reveres swings. Michael Starc of Australia felt that this would give additional advantage to the batsmen on not so seaming wickets. If wicket keeper and fielders have to maintain distance that would also go in favour of the batsmen. We believe it is still too early to take final decision about the regulation. There should more talks.
However, given the very tight schedules for ensuring FTP teams may need to play too many matches in too short a time. Some bilateral series may be pushed back. Many suggesting that test playing team may think of separate teams playing tests and ODI/T20. But is it possible for teams other than Australia, England, India and New Zealand? Perhaps not.
Cricket is a spectators’ game. Whether longer, shorter or the shortest version cricket needs spectators appearing in colors, singing and dancing on the terraces. Perhaps that possibility is very remote in the near future. Cricket like many things in life will never be the same again.
BDST: 1735 HRS, JUN 01, 2020