The world has realized that the global virus is here to stay for long and is making continuous changes to adapt to the new normal. Just like every sector, sports industry has been impacted as well. In this regard, cricket has seen some major adaptations to keep the game alive and running in the midst of the pandemic.
Let us look at how the virus has impacted the game.
1. Delay of Tournaments
The onset of the virus has seen multiple leagues and tournaments around different cricketing nations postponed or called off. The fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League was postponed just before it entered its four match play-offs after an initial tweak to the the schedule shortening the number of matches and decision to hold last four group stage games without physical audience. The tournament is set to renew with its remaining matches to be played in Lahore starting Nov 14th. Catch up with all action of HBL PSL V at Official Channel of Pakistan Super League.
The ICC men’s T20 world cup set to be played in Australia from 18 oct to 15 Nov this year has been shifted to Oct-Nov 2022 at the same venue. India will host the 2021 edition of the tournament as planned.
ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney stated,
The decision gives us the best possible opportunity of delivering two safe and successful T20 World Cups for fans around the world.
2. Bio-secure bubble
The new normal has brought in the concept of everyone including staff, officials, broadcasters, media team along with players to be confined to dedicated stadiums being cordoned off as bio-secure bubbles. All adhered to only one-way traffic into these areas with strict regulations of social distancing, regular Covid checks and quarantine put into place.
Emirates Old Trafford and the Ageas Bowl provided perfect facilities for the bio-secure environment for the English summer this year with the cricket pioneers hosting West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan, and Australia in order.
Another sought after franchise league, the Indian Premier League is following suit as the 13th edition kicked off in UAE on the 19th of September, six months post its schedule for this year.
3. No Crowds
Perhaps the biggest change witnessed on grounds was the absence of crowd during matches. The decision was put into practice during PSL earlier this year, and later the return of international cricket after Covid restrictions first came into picture, saw the entire international English summer being played with empty seats.
This brought on some interesting sights for the fans to witness on their teles seeing their favorite players having to fetch the ball from empty seats themselves with no on-ground staff permitted, probably burning some extra calories.
There has been actions taken to maximize fans interaction during these times with IPL setting up digital fan walls in the stadium giving 96 fans from around the world to be part of the live streaming.
Crowds, however are returning to international cricket with the onset of CommBank Women's T20 Series between Australia and New Zealand late last month marking the beginning of Australian summer.