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How the coronavirus pandemic could leave the cricketing world in utter chaos once life gets back to normal

  • With the COVID-19 epidemic taking its toll, cricketing action has been halted all across the globe.
  • We look at the possibilities of potentially rescheduling the matches that were supposed to take place this summer.
Karan Vinod
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 19 Mar 2020, 22:00 IST

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni's return to cricketing action is set to be delayed

With the unprecedented collapse of all sporting events across the globe due to the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, the cricketing world has also slowly come to grips with the effect the disease is having on the sport. Almost all series and tournaments have been either called off or postponed.

A lot of events were scheduled for the next couple of months in the cricketing fraternity. Major tournaments, tours, and series all risk being cancelled or postponed indefinitely. This also applies to domestic cricket in different countries as well. The likes of the Plunket Shield have been called off and Wellington Firebirds were declared champions.

One of the biggest cricket tournaments of the calendar year is the Indian Premier League. Two months of non-stop pulsating T20 cricket has been a source of entertainment for fans for over a decade. With the biggest superstars on show, the tournament has a festival-like feel in the country.

The IPL was scheduled to start on March 29 and to conclude on May 24. But after such an unmitigated disaster, it is a major doubt if the tournament will take place this year. As of now, the tournament has been postponed till April 15 and there were talks of how the IPL could be played behind closed doors and away from the fans.

Now, there is no certainty that the tournament will start on the said date and may have to be scrapped altogether if this pandemic continues to worsen.

Let's have a look at how this pandemic will affect various countries and their schedules.


India and South Africa

South Africa were set to play India in a three-match ODI series
South Africa were set to play India in a three-match ODI series

The remaining two ODIs of the India vs South Africa series had to be called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial thought was to play behind closed doors but that was soon scrapped as the situation in the country was worsening gradually. The BCCI along with the CSA have said that they will look to reschedule the series and that South Africa will travel to India on a later date.

However, it remains to be seen if the rescheduling is indeed possible as the South Africans are slated to travel to the West Indies for two Tests and five T20 Internationals. The tour is supposed to commence in mid-July and end on August 16. After this, the team will have just over a month to prepare for the T20 World Cup which is set to conclude in mid-November.

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The Indian team though don't seem to have a fixture congestion problem. As of now, they are not scheduled to play any games from the end of the IPL to the start of the World Cup. Now, this will change in all likelihood but with no commitments made, it gives them room to plan a series.


Australia and New Zealand

The first ODI between Australia and New Zealand was held behind closed doors
The first ODI between Australia and New Zealand was held behind closed doors

After playing the first ODI behind closed doors, Australia and New Zealand decided to call off the rest of the series due to the epidemic. This was the first time these players played a game of this magnitude with no spectators and it was a weird feeling.

As the epidemic got worse in Australia, it was only right that the series was abandoned. All the New Zealand players travelled home immediately and were asked to quarantine themselves for 14 days as a precaution.

The Australian team has a packed schedule ahead as many of were slated to play in the IPL - which is up in the air now - and are then immediately slated to tour Bangladesh for two Tests in June. They then travel to the United Kingdom and are scheduled to play England in three T20Is and three ODIs. That is the last bit of preparation for them ahead of the T20 World Cup.

The New Zealand team have an equally congested fixture list. Kane Williamson and co. are scheduled to play Scotland in one T20I and a single ODI before going up against the Netherlands in a lone T20I. They then tour Ireland and play them in three T20Is and three ODIs.


England and Sri Lanka

England Cricket Team
England Cricket Team

England were set to tour Sri Lanka for a two-test series but that has been called off. A press release issued by ECB stated:

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic worsening globally, and after discussions with Sri Lanka Cricket, we have today made the decision to return our players to the UK and postpone the forthcoming Test series between Sri Lanka and England."

Whether this series will be rescheduled is still unknown. A lot of English players were set to participate in the IPL. The England team is scheduled to host West Indies in a three-test series starting June 4. They were then to play Australia in three T20Is and three ODIs before welcoming Pakistan for three Tests and two T20Is. This was to be followed by playing Ireland in a three-match ODI series in what would be their final preparation ahead of the T20 World Cup.

The Sri Lankan cricket team will be open to rescheduling the England visit as they have no commitments from June to the start of the T20 World Cup.

As we are yet to understand the full extent and repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cricket world can only wait and watch and see what develops. After all that is being said, the uncertainty of what lies ahead of us is going to make for an uncomfortable summer.

Published 17 Mar 2020, 19:22 IST
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