Cricket action in Australia will resume as early as the coming Saturday. As the cricket returns despite the global COVID-19 crisis, Cricket Australia has reported some fans will also be present in the stadium during a T20 carnival in Darwin, the Northern Territory.
The return of competitive cricket in Australia this weekend with a T20 carnival in Darwin marks an important milestone for the game amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
And not only will cricket be back on the field, fans will also be in attendance, cricket Australia has reported on its official website.
The CDU Top End T20 is a round-robin carnival that will see 15 games played across the Queen’s Birthday long-weekend from June 6 to 8.
Keeping in mind the threat of novel coronavirus, only 500 spectators will be allowed inside the stadium.
Australia is among only a few nations which have succeeded in controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with about 6.3 million confirmed cases worldwide resulting in close to four lakh deaths.
The T20 World Cup 2020 appears to be one of the biggest sporting casualty of infectious virus that spreads from humans to humans. The tournament slated to be held across different venues in Australia is all but set to be deferred to another date in 2021 or may be 2022 as India has been granted rights to host the next edition.
The Top End T20 carnival will be followed by the start of the Darwin & District one-day season the following weekend that is scheduled as a 14-round competition with a grand final on September 19.
The return to competition on Saturday will be keenly watched as Australian cricket’s top-flight moves slowly toward normality, while Darwin plays a role as a testing ground for cricket in a COVID-19 environment.
The Northern Territory has not had an active COVID-19 case since May 21, and a move to ‘Stage 3’ restrictions in the territory from noon on Friday will see up to 500 spectators allowed at the grounds for the Top End T20.
The use of sweat and saliva to shine the white Kookaburra ball will not be permitted, and no artificial substances will be available, but that may change for the 50-over competition.
Darwin Cricket Management chairman Lachlan Baird said he was waiting on a firm answer from Cricket Australia on whether bowlers could use a wax to aid swing, or if the ICC Cricket Committee’s recommendation that sweat be allowed, but not saliva, will be enforced.
Disinfectant on match balls
“Cricket Australia is still very strong at the moment that they will not necessarily follow the ICC direction that sweat can be used and any wax applicator will not be banned,” Baird told the NT News this week.
“They are still exploring that. Fortunately it should not be too much of an issue with our T20 competition this weekend.
“But the week after when 50-over cricket begins we will need a formal decision on what we are going to do — either through wax applicators with Kookaburra or hopefully following the ICC and the United Kingdom, who say using sweat and not saliva to shine the ball is an acceptable risk.”
Top End T20 live streamed fixtures: June 6: 10am Waratah v Nightcliff; 2.30pm PINT v Invitational XI; June 7: 10am South Districts v Darwin; 2.30pm Palmerston v Tracy Village; June 8: 10am semi-final 1; 2.30pm grand finale.