The entire cricket calendar has been on a standstill since mid-March following the outbreak of novel coronavirus. A series of bilateral tournaments and franchise cricket, including the Indian Premier League, have been postponed, and with the surge in COVID-19 cases, the chances of cricket resuming in the near future are grim.
“It’s very difficult to see any live cricket happening at the moment. However, in Australia, we have largely remained unaffected by COVID-19. I will imagine the ICC will be taking all necessary precautions to ensure that not only the players are safe but the spectators are also safe if at all the T20 World Cup does take place,” said Australian cricket commentator and former player, Matthew Hayden.The household cricket name explained that the decreased movement of people across borders could hamper the probability of the tournament taking place.
“The current situation in Australia is that a person is not allowed to travel in between borders. There’s very little movement of people. So, at this stage, it’s very hard to see any kind of global tournament proceeding,” he explained.
According to Hayden, a commentator for the online cricket game World Cricket Championship (WCC), people want to see live cricket – but that can only happen if there are no medical risks involved for both players and the spectators.
“It will be a really good sign that the world is moving forward if the global cricket tournament can go ahead. So, my fingers are crossed that it does happen. But I am sure it won’t happen if there’s any medical risk to players and spectators,” said the former left-handed batsman.
After the T20 World Cup, India are scheduled to tour Australia for a four-Test series and three ODIs. It is expected that Cricket Australia will suffer a loss of almost 300 million dollars if the tour is cancelled. Hayden believes that it should proceed if all health and safety measures are maintained. “If Cricket Australia can ensure clean stadiums, then I think it should proceed, but not until every last health authority in Australia is consulted with. No risks should be taken,” said the Australian cricket hall of famer.
Speaking about the 13th IPL edition which currently stands postponed, Hayden believes the lucrative league can be held without the participation of foreign players if the need arises.
“Certainly the IPL could take exist without foreign players. I think it would be a product that is being compromised naturally because foreign players do add a lot to the IPL. They raise the level of awareness and excitement among fans. Getting nations together has in fact made IPL the fun that it has been,” he said.
Hayden added that it can be held in other nation like Sri Lanka (where Colombo has three or four international venues) if it’s not possible to stage the tournament in India, provided all necessary health precautions are taken care of.
With the IPL delayed and questions looming over the T20 World Cup later this year, many in the cricket fraternity believe it could be the end of the road for veteran M.S. Dhoni’s international career. However, Hayden believes Dhoni knows best when to draw curtains on his international career. “I think every champion, and I consider MS to be a champion, always knows the time to put themselves out of the game, and not feel forced towards the end of the career when the time is ticking,” he said.
One of the talking points of the post-COVID cricket has been the ban over the usage of saliva to shine the ball when the sport resumes. If these concerns continue, Hayden believes the game shouldn’t potentially resume. “I think the expectations would be that it’s not just about saliva, it’s about sweat, it’s bumping into each other. These are the whole set of circumstances. If it’s that serious then potentially the game shouldn’t be happening,” Hayden explained.