Cricket is all set to make a huge return after being hit by Covid-19, which affected every other sport around the world. However, the way Test Cricket will be played from next week (with England and the West Indies kicking off the Test series) till the eradication of Covid-19 will be a different ballgame.
There will be a lot of restrictions for the batsmen, the bowlers, the fielders, the umpires, and above all, the spectators which might impact the game overall, but in the spirit of ‘the show must go on’, everyone is happy that Cricket is making a return. Let’s go over the changes that might be temporary for Cricketers, but could become part of the Cricket folklore if Covid-19 isn’t defeated anytime soon.
For the batsmen
While they are being hailed as the biggest beneficiary of the new ‘guidelines’, there are certain things that they will be barred from doing. There will be no kissing the ground (or bowing down in case of Pakistani Cricketers) after completing a milestone. Since usually there is a 22-yard distance between the batsmen and the runner, they will be in no immediate danger but yes, the mid-pitch meetings will become less and less. Since the matches will be played in a bio-secure environment with no spectators, the thrill they used to get from the crowd will be gone.
For the bowlers
Fast bowlers are the worst hit by the new guidelines; they would neither be able to shine the ball using their saliva nor would be able to celebrate taking a wicket in their usual manner. Yes, they might be able to use their sweat to keep the ball shiny on one side, but with no saliva, it means minimizing their impact when bowling. They will have to maintain social distance during the match, meaning on-field conferences will be a thing of the past, for the time being.
Also, with neutral umpires gone, they might not be able to get decisions in their favour, something that was a common sight all over the world before the introduction of the neutral umpires. And not having the crowd to support them, their motivation will be at an all-time low.
For the fielders
What good is a fielder when he doesn’t have the crowd to support him, a bowler to celebrate the wicket with, can’t use saliva on the ball and has to maintain distance from the next guy, be it the batsman, the bowler or another fielder! There might not be many restrictions on them but try being in their shoes – empty stadium, social distancing and no celebration for 90 overs a day will surely make the game boring for them.
For the umpires
The real benefactors of Covid-19 are the local umpires who would be able to stand in matches featuring their team; a Pakistani umpire can now officiate in a match featuring Pakistan and the same goes for other teams. While the better umpires will have a great time serving the game, the biased ones will feel the heat as now, technology reigns supreme and the match referee monitors everything. If a local umpire makes a mistake that would be forgiven but if he intentionally helps his side, that would land him in trouble for sure. With an additional review allotted to the batting and the fielding side each in all formats as well as the introduction of the reserve umpire, some umpires might already be feeling the pressure!
For the spectators
There will be no spectators in the stadium to watch the game, except the match officials, the broadcasters, the reserved players, and the ground staff. Let that sink in first!