Cricket in COVID-19 era with a new excitement.

July 8, 2020 By Poonam Kushwaha

1st Test preview, England vs West Indies: After 117 days, international cricket resumes in COVID- 19 era.

Following more than a 3-month long enforced break due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, international cricket is back as England host West Indies in a historic Test at Southampton.

117 days. That’s how long it has been since international cricket was last played. It was Australia and New Zealand who played the last international fixture at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 13.

Cricket in COVID-19 era with a new excitement.
Australia And New Zealand last international test match before COVID- 19 Pandemic

The sport had not seen such a long break since the 2 World Wars in the early 20th century. Even during the world wars, first-class cricket was played, especially in India, but the COVID- 19 pandemic has enforced a total shutdown.

However, as they say, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The sound of the leather brushing the middle of the willow is all set to be heard again as England take on West Indies in what promises to be a historic 3-Test series from July 8. The two teams will be in action in front of empty stands at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton from Wednesday as sport-deprived cricket fans are expected to tune in from across the globe.

West Indies team.

England vs West Indies 1st Test match at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton. After a wait of almost more than 3 months, the cricket returns with exciting prospects. Both the teams will be eager to put on a show, and with no cricket on the surface in the past few months, it is expected to be a hard one. But, in the end, this match will be decided by how quickly the teams and the players adapt to the new rules and regulations approved by the ICC to reduce the risk of COVID- 19. Plenty of things to watch out for. Let the action begin!

New COVID-19 protocols

On 9 June, the ICC Chief Executives Committee (CEC) approved a new set of guidelines recommended by the world cricketing body’s Cricket Committee chaired by former cricketer Anil Kumble.

Ban on saliva usage: In one of the major changes to cricket, bowlers will be banned from using saliva to shine the ball. A team can be given two warnings for this, but a repeated usage of saliva thereafter will lead to a five-run penalty to the batting team.

COVID- 19 player replacements: In a rule exclusively for Tests, teams will be permitted to replace players who show coronavirus symptoms. If this need arises, the match referee will approve the nearest like-for-like replacement.

Non-neutral umpires: Because of the logistical challenges with international travel, the ICC will temporarily do away with neutral umpires. This will enable ICC to appoint locally-based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.

Additional DRS reviews: Bearing in mind there may be less experienced umpires at times, the CEC also confirmed the usage of an extra unsuccessful DRS review for each team in each innings during a match. As a result, this will increase the number of unsuccessful appeals for teams to two in limited-overs and three in Tests.

Allowance of additional logo: The CEC also approved a relaxation of rules on apparel logos for the next 12 months.  “A logo, not exceeding 32 square inches in size, may be placed on the chest of the Test match shirt and sweater in addition to the three other logos allowed as per regulations. As of now, logos on chests are only allowed in ODIs and T20Is,” said the ICC in a statement.

A successful series between England and West Indies will certainly boost the hopes of other cricket-playing nations to consider resuming activities. Already, Pakistan have arrived in the UK and are scheduled to play 3 Tests and 3 T20Is in August-September. England will also play 3 ODIs against Ireland before the Pakistan series.

New Zealand vs West Indies.