There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill and cricket hasn’t been immune to this either. We’ve missed a great chunk of the international calendar, not to forget an action-packed season of the Indian T20 League. While the fans have been starved for live action from the field, the ICC Cricket Committee is looking to bring a few changes to the rules of the game to make it a safer environment for the sport to resume.
Due to the world moving towards a new normal, cricket also has to adapt itself in these testing times. For the same, the ICC Cricket Committee has come up with interim guidelines for the future of this sport. There’s no denying that the sport won’t be the same without jam-packed stadiums and an electric atmosphere as that’s still quite a long way down the line, but in a nutshell, here we look at some of the top recommendations put out by the Committee.
Social distancing – both on and off the field
The umpires will no longer assist the players in handling their sweaters, glasses and caps while they prepare to bowl. Each player is responsible for their own belongings. Umpires are also told to consider using gloves while handling the ball.
Players should also not engage in celebrations which will have bodily contact. Social distancing needs to be followed at all times whether it’s in training or the changing rooms. Players should maintain a 1.5-metre distance from each other during training sessions and have been told to use the changing rooms sparingly. They should travel alone to training sessions as well.
Alongside all this, the players are also strongly discouraged from sharing drinks, towels and their cricketing gear as those have a potential to pose a risk.
Immediate steps in case a player tests positive.
Even though cricket is a non-contact sport, it still requires players to be in close proximity to each other. Therefore if a team member develops any symptoms of COVID-19, then he or she will require immediate isolation and testing.
The document doesn’t indulge in the exact details of what will happen if someone actually tests positive but the ICC Cricket Committee reiterated that everyone in the environment will have to be tested.
Special orders for vulnerable individuals
Worldwide, individuals who are above 60 years of age are tagged as ‘vulnerable’ and are likely to be affected more during this pandemic. Thus, if anyone ranging from match officials to support staff to match referees fall under this category, the ICC will take full consideration of the same. The health and well-being of these individuals will be of utmost importance to the body.
No saliva or artificial substance can be used on the ball
It’s no secret that cricket becomes entertaining only when there’s an even contest between the bat and the ball. And how does the fielding team create this even contest? They do this by shining the ball and maintaining it, whether for conventional swing or reverse swing. Shining the ball requires the players to use their sweat or their saliva on the ball. So the million-dollar question here is that in the time of COVID-19, is it a safe technique to pursue or it isn’t?
The ICC Cricket Committee has made it clear that no saliva or artificial item will be allowed on the ball and players can resort only to sweat to shine the leather. The Committee has also suggested that countries should prepare sporting pitches to even the contest. But a few people are wary of this decision. Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc believes that this ban will lead to ‘boring cricket’, as the balance between bat and ball would be disrupted.
The thing to remember here is that these recommendations are only for an interim period and when the world comes back to a relatively normal situation, we can have our ‘original’ cricket rules back. So until then, let’s hope for the best.
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