Well, fairly straightforward as it looks, it is not, COVID-19 has put the ICC into a spot of bother, one that they did not imagine from the outside world barring the cricketing trio of royalty boards. Now, the pandemic has created such chaos to all sports, that the sporting calendars need a revamp.
Despite not being straightforward in the footballing season, the way these leagues combined with the UEFA took such decisions in just a flip has everyone praising them. Moreso, they have also gone one step further to mention that the next year’s European competition will only start after the current seasons across the world will come to a halt. And, then there is cricket, which is struggling to cope up with the pandemic. Unsure of from where the pandemic will attack, cricket came to an abrupt halt - with the IPL as everyone recalls it.
But was it IPL, the first event that really was a victim of the COVID-19? No, it is the Test Championship, one that has become the mainstay for Test cricketing action. It all started with the cancelled series between Bangladesh and Pakistan. And, it then cancelled all the possible action between England and Sri Lanka, one that everyone was waiting eagerly for. Now, there will be no return of Keaton Jennings and Ben Foakes amongst the many. Okay, let us talk more about the royalty of cricket - Tests.
When Virat Kohli said, “It's getting closer and closer to landing at the stadium straight. That's how compressed the gap has become. This kind of travelling to a place that is seven and a half hours ahead of IST is difficult to adjust immediately. Hopefully, this will be taken into consideration in the future,” he meant every word of it. With the current calendar, there is a Test series every month leading up to the T20 World Cup and, more so, after that. January and February of 2021 too are packed closely like biscuits in a packet.
Well, it doesn’t affect much, you would try to say? Don’t get me started on that, because it does. As many as FOURTEEN TESTS across seven series in as many as five countries are affected - all because of the pandemic COVID-19. But, more than that, it is the kind of schedule that does not really allow for another go. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, England, Australia, South Africa and Bangladesh.
Only six nations out of the nine countries in the Test Championship are playing, not a big deal, really! Coming back to the IPL, it now looks like it might be cancelled, well because it scheduled to start by April 15, which now, looks like a distant reality.
And, the series between England and Sri Lanka was the second victim of COVID-19 in the Test Championship, with Bangladesh-Pakistan first. The statement from the respective boards is on the lines of ‘We will get it rescheduled later, but more importantly, when is later? What is later? At this point, we are aware that all Test cricketing action comes to a close in the month of February.
So leading to the finals, there is like easily three months to fit in these series’, so what is the fuss about? That is the first aim, which also is the best possible situation for all teams, despite meaning that some of the teams But, we also have to remember that, one of Sri Lanka or Bangladesh might have to play the T20 qualifiers if they fail to proceed out of the group stages in the World Cup in Australia. Oh, if you were thinking, the qualifiers start in March. And, what else is in March, exactly you know what!
So if everything goes by that, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka might not be able to play their Test series. And, who do they play? England and Australia, two of the biggest cricketing nations in the world. Imagine, such a situation, that England and Australia are unable to play their matches against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which results in them getting fewer points and missing out on qualification. Well, at that time, all the blame would definitely be on the ICC for smudging up such a beautiful schedule containing these Tests. If they do give the Test series a go and don’t play the qualifiers, they might have to miss out on those, either way, does not row the boat.
As a travelling nation for England, it would be apt, but also they would lose points in rapid succession. Why? Because all the games are in Asia, if they get caught up in a tangle, they would be in one for two-straight months before they can get out of the muddle. And if they do decide to have it this year, bad luck, as the World Cup is coming soon in October. It runs till November and by then, Test cricket elsewhere will resume.
But that is not the concern, the concern is ICC having all these games tightly knitted to each other. It does not allow breathing space for the teams, moreover, under such dire circumstances, it allows none. The only place that it could possibly go is after February 2021 but given the others are in play, either they should be rescheduled or this Test championship should be. So next time, ICC chalks the blackboard with dates on it, they might have to give some breathing space to the teams. And if they do manage to cramp up the schedule, we will find players running tired on the field, needing more than just the drinks break.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi