Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta
The year 2020 will be remembered for being inexorably elongated, leading to disruptions worldwide. It was that dreaded National Basketball Association’s announcement on March 11, 2020, – when they suspended the championship – that sent shivers in the sporting world.
Close on the heels of this announcement, several sporting authorities followed suit, canceling marquee events in their respective sports. Even the Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021.
In the cricket world, the International Cricket Council (ICC) called off the Twenty20 World Cup that was supposed to be held in Australia in October. Planning for future cricket events went into a tailspin with the uncertainty of the pandemic growing. Research into a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 was initiated at a frantic pace worldwide. There was cautious optimism as sports was gradually reintroduced and a bio-secure bubble was a term that we all embraced with hope.
After cricket came to a screeching halt, England and West Indies resumed playing cricket in July in the bio-secure environment of Southampton’s Ageas Bowl. This series and the subsequent Pakistan tour of England brought a fresh of breath air to the ailing cricket world. Now, administrators became more experienced with the “new normal” of the world.
The Indian Premier League was shifted from the subcontinent to the United Arab Emirates. It was held at three venues – Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi – and it clearly proved to be a very successful event, with Mumbai Indians yet again winning the title, their fifth, after they defeated Delhi Capitals by five wickets in the final.
There were lock-downs imposed in several countries worldwide to curb the pandemic. And, they continue to be imposed in several countries even now. Social distancing, masking, and sanitizing hands became the new norm of the world. Cricket found a way out to reach their fans again. Cricket and Covid learned to co-exist. Rather than wait for the pandemic to go through the protracted phase, administrators took upon themselves to become innovative while exercising safety to resume cricket. In the midst of this pandemic, the IPL provided fans something to cheer about and Star India recently shared that IPL 2020 viewership reached 31.57 million, which reflected a 23% increase compared to the preceding year.
Now that there is significant favorable news about vaccines, I can see the end of this pandemic coming. Good news is on the horizon for human beings.
I am waiting for the day when we can all say, ‘goodbye Covid and welcome back cricket.’