COVID-19: No stopping for LIVE cricket action now

The success of the England-West Indies series has opened doors for a consistent dose of high quality LIVE cricket for the fans, broadcasters and other stakeholders in the sport.

After the COVIND-19 pandemic had deprived cricket fraternity of any considerable LIVE action for nearly four months, the West Indies tour of England came as a ray of hope. For the Caribbeans it needed some courage to visit the nation that has been among the worst hit by novel coronavirus. The Great Britain had seen Prime Minister Boris Johnson reach the hospital intensive care unit and narrowly escape from being put on ventilator support due to the deadly virus infection.

In such a scenario England and Wales Cricket Board took the dare of hosting international teams with strict standard operating procedures in place. The success of the England-West Indies series has served as the role model for other boards, ensuring non-stop high octane cricket action though the year, that has been worst ever for sports in peace time, and beyond.

NON-STOP CRICKET

Before the Caribbeans complete their three-Test tour of England, Pakistan have completed the mandatory isolation period and are raring to start their Test series against the Three Lions.

Pakistan in England: The Pakistan cricket team was rocked by a number of its players testing positive for COVID-19 infection in the mandatory tests before departing for the England. Players, all asymptomatic, have recovered and joined the squad. The team, being led by Azhar Ali, is set to play Three Tests and as many T20Is between August 5 and September 1.

Caribbean Premier League: As Pakistan complete their tour of England, Cricket West Indies is gearing up to host the Caribbean Premier League 2020 across two venues in Trinidad and Tobago during August and September. Dream 11/FanCode have the broadcast rights for India. The fantasy sports platform is in negotiations with a sports broadcast network for syndicating television rights.

 Australia tour of England – ECB is not ready to allow the action to stop in a hurry. Close on the heels of the Pakistan tour, England is also working on to host Australia for what is rated among cricket’s most glorious and intense battles. The Kangaroos will be playing with their arch foes three ODIs and three T2oIs from September 4 and September 16.  The 26-strong squad will arrive in England three weeks in advance. Cricket Australia is to decide on intra-team practice games during mandatory 14-day isolation period on arrival in England.

Indian Premier League: Three days after Australia complete their tour of England, the stage will be set in the UAE for the biggest commercial extravaganza of cricket. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has “unofficially” confirmed the Indian Premier League Season 13 in the Emirates from September 10 to November 8. The formality of the official announcement should be completed sometime next week. The English and Australian players will be flying in directly after the last T20I will be flying directly to the UAE for joining their respective IPL squads.

The UAE cricket governing body, SportzFront has learnt, has written to the Emirates Governments to allow sparse crowd for the matches. However, there is no certainty if they will get a go ahead on not.

India’s Tour of Australia: Virat Kohli and Company will get united in Team India flannels for the first time in nine months later this year as BCCI is considering the tour of Australia in December-January. A mega squad of 26 players is expected to leave for Australia straight from the UAE after the IPL final on November 8. The team will have to serve a 14-day isolation period on arrival Down Under.

Cricket Australia had declined to entertain BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s request for a shorter isolation period.

England in India:  The England-India cricket next year is going to be a long affair. England is scheduled to visit for a five-Test series in January and February. The Three Lions limited overs tour, comprising three ODIs and as many T20Is, in September this year has been deferred due to the massive COVID-19 spread in India and ban on international flights. Purists will say BCCI has put IPL above the international commitment. The Indian board is now expecting to club the white ball matches with the Test tour.

Kohli will then lead his men to England for a five-Test series from July.

SOME EXTRA DOSE

 Big Bash League: Cricket Australia had declined to host the T20 World Cup 2020 due to the novel coronavirus spread. But it wants the domestic games to return. Big Bash League for men is being planned for December and January.

 Bangladesh Tour Sri Lanka: The Emerald Island had managed to keep the COVID-19. Sri Lanka Cricket had also shown its keenness to host the IPL 2020 and extended a proposal to the BCCI. Now, the SLC is reportedly engaged in talks to host the Bangladesh Cricket team for a series in October.

It will not affect the ISL much as Lasith Malinga and Isuru Udana, two Sri Lankan players with IPL contracts, do not play Test match cricket anymore and no Bangladesh cricketer has an IPL commitment this year.

Interestingly, West Indies is also planning to host South Africa in September. But that call will be subject to the IPL schedule for the professional Caribbean cricketers will not be prepared to skip lucrative contracts from their Indian team owners.

Admin Sportz Front

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