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Cricket Pauses for Thought Amid Pandemic

Like most events the world over, the sport of cricket is on hold.

Wherever you are in the globe, the coronavirus pandemic is impacting on our professional and personal life.

And the cricketing world is no different with players, officials and fans all feeling anxious or unsure of what comes next.

As it stands, a possible rescheduling of the UK cricket season will be discussed later this week by the England and Wales Cricket Board which has already pledged £60 million of support to counties and clubs.

The 18 first-class counties will share £40m, with £20m in interest-free loans made available to grassroots clubs.

That is just one nation, of course.

It was left to pace bowler James Anderson to sum up what so many are feeling when he said this week: ‘Cricket and sport is not the be-all and end-all, but it is my livelihood, it’s all I know.’

There are many questions to be answered.

What happens to the T20 World Cup due to be held in Australia later this year? What about the ongoing World Test Championship now that several Test series have been called off?

What of the new ODI League – the pathway for teams to qualify for the men’s 2023 ODI World Cup – which was scheduled to start in May?

Going back to the T20, Cricket Australia’s chief executive Kevin Roberts sounded optimistic about the event going ahead as per schedule (from October-November), but if it does not, the biggest challenge the organisers could face will be the absence of free space to accommodate the tournament later in the year.

Immediately after the T20 World Cup, Australia are scheduled to host Afghanistan followed by a four-Test and three-match ODI series against India.

Another option the ICC might think of exploring is utilising the gap year that is 2022 which currently does not have an ICC global event. But for that alternative, the ICC along with Cricket Australia and BCCI, the hosting boards for the next two T20 World Cups, would need to sit down and carve out an alternate window.

Moving onto the World Test Championship, will there be sufficient time to accommodate all the series each of the nine teams are supposed to play (six each)? Perhaps the decision will be made easier by the fact several teams have barely played one series so far under the WTC.

And then there is the ODI Super League, scheduled to be played between May this year and March,2022, serving as the qualification pathway for the 2023 World Cup.

There are so many permutations across the board.

Just as there are many permutations, everyone has a view about what happens next.

Closer to home, former England captain Alastair Cook says he would prefer this year’s County Championship to be scrapped than play a dramatically shortened campaign.

The England and Wales Cricket Board could install coronavirus checkpoints and isolation units at grounds in order to resume the game behind closed doors.

English cricket may have shut down until at least 28 May but the ECB is looking at playing internationals with no fans.

Yet at times like these, cricket really should take a backseat.

It has already claimed a victim with the death of well-respected Lancashire chairman David Hodgkiss.

Other countries continue to play cricket behind closed doors
A staff packs up as the cricket match in Pakistan has been postponed

Many want to make sure tragedy is restricted as much as humanly possible.

Surrey’s former England all-rounder Rikki Clarke should have been in his final couple of weeks of pre-season training but has, instead, joined 750,000 others in becoming an NHS volunteer.

He is now on call to deliver shopping and medicine to the most vulnerable people amid the pandemic.

Further afield, Rohit Sharma has donated Rs 80 lakh to various relief funds, including Rs 5 lakh to aid the welfare of stray dogs.

The star India batsman says the onus is on the citizens to help the country get back on its feet.

Other top sportsmen playing their part include batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, his skipper Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and his Test teammate Ajinkya Rahane.

So, what do we do in times of no cricket?

Well, some watch old cricket, vintage matches of yesteryear, some with real-time ball-by-ball commentary as if it were being played today.

Another alternative, with precious little, if any, cricket to look forward to, could be making time to catch up on some essential reading.

It is also certainly an insight to see how some professional cricketers themselves are coping.

As it stands, we are just over a week away till what was supposed to be the beginning of the cricket season.

The health of nations the world over means that will have to wait.

 

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