LEFT-HAND VIEW: Cricket in the time of the pandemic
LEFT-HAND VIEW: Cricket in the time of the pandemic

Photo Credit: IANS


Cricket in the time of the pandemic! The sport of cricket has been the brightest star shining when the world was, is still working from home. The entertainment value, the competitiveness and the love for their team and its players showed some signs of moving towards pre-Covid normalcy.

A world cup is usually considered as the culmination. The heights in performance and consistency teams show leading up to the world cup and once that finishes, it prompts for a break before the next cycle resumes. It should and must feel like a fresh start for a player and the team.

In one of my earlier articles, I had mentioned about the Indian team's jaded appeal during the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and the road that led to that appeal. Now let's look at a few other teams in world cricket.

New Zealand, the World T20 runners-up, after losing the final found themselves boarding a flight to India the next day to play a T20 and Test series. Largely, with the same set of players. India, having the luxury of showcasing home talent, managed to provide a different look to their team.

Pakistan men flew directly to Bangladesh to play a T20 series followed by a Test series. The Sri Lankan team is competing against West Indies in a Test series and the South Africa men will be up against the Netherlands.

So what break are we talking about? These are times when you finish an event and the next day a new one is lined up. No wonder a lot of the players and captains talk about being in the present and not looking too far ahead. Absolutely correct! The game also teaches us the same thing -- play one ball at a time.

While men's cricket has seen a lot of action, the women's teams waited to get started after the pandemic break. However, all teams were not as fortunate as others. Sri Lanka women saw the worst of it and, with the news of not being able to participate in the upcoming women's World Cup, it will be more devastating for them.

Since playing the women's T20 World Cup in Australia in March, 2020, the girls had not regrouped or played any competitive cricket. The ongoing World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe were their chance to book their seat for New Zealand, 2022. But the tournament has been cancelled midway due to the recent Covid outbreak identified in Africa. Hence, they will not be able to make it to New Zealand.

The fear of losing a talented bunch looms large. Thailand, who looked impressive in the tournament, missed out narrowly due to the event's cancellation, but Bangladesh made the cut after missing out in the 2017 World Cup.

A player trains to compete. The player's body and mind are trained and conditioned to perform. But lack of activity can have a negative effect also. A young player loses out on exposure and a senior on time. Yes, a break is absolutely essential that's why there is a value attached to weekends in the corporate world. The office work can happen from home but the sport needs an outdoor environment.

A lot of cricket has been played and watched in the last 12-14 months, with credit to everyone who has been able to put it all together. The players, too, have performed in very different environments, hopping from one bio-secure environment to another.

A situation like in Africa at present can happen at any time and anywhere in the world. The Indian leg of IPL 2021 and now the ICC women's qualifiers are prime examples. A player's full-time employment is to play the sport till he/she is fit to play. The pandemic has taken away the luxury of decision-making, but the players' career with an early retirement age remains a constant.

(Anjum Chopra is a former Indian woman Test cricketer)




Update: 28-November-2021