What good can come out of a Global Pandemic? If you think about it, there’s not much. The world goes into panic mode, economies crash, thousands of people lose their jobs, millions are left affected and a million more stranded, and the chaos that ensues ensures that normalcy is wiped out for good.
But this is one side of the argument, a human - or rather a biased - one, you can call it. There has also been certain good that has emerged out of this Covid-19 outbreak. New Delhi, for instance, clocked an AQI (Air Quality Index) of 72 at 6:47 am on Thursday, which is considered ‘satisfactory’. The complete eradication of human beings from the streets has meant that the surroundings have naturally healed and have become indistinguishable from the same place some six months ago, which, if you remember, had AQI close to 500 and was considered ‘hazardous’.
Recently, last week, videos of Dolphins playing in the seashores of Mumbai emerged, too, and the dissipation of humans in and around the shores finally gave those aquatic mammals the leeway to have some fun. Maybe it can be said that this pandemic has successfully managed to do what thousands of climate activists envisioned when they went on the #FridaysForFuture campaigns.
But it’s not just nature that has benefited from this. The machines and the robots, too, have finally been asked to stop working and have been given some rest in the midst of this crisis. The mechanical beings I'm referring to, here, is the Indian cricket team. After busting their backsides out for a period of 211 days, post the 2019 World Cup, the Indian cricket team, right before they braced themselves to tirelessly work for another two months, have been stopped in the nick of time by this Covid-19 outbreak which, if I could say, has drawn a ‘Lakshman Rekha’ outside their gates.
That is one way to ensure that they don’t take to the field and stay inside their homes. The BCCI, with their scheduling, certainly did not manage to do that. Let’s get one thing straight, though. By no means is this an ideal situation - close to 500,000 people have been affected globally and the world is currently overseeing its worst crisis since World War II, more than 80 years ago. But there is not a single player in that Indian dressing room who can and will deny the simple fact that they so badly needed this break. They might not openly embrace it, for circumstances are far from ideal, but that is the bitter truth - the Indian players needed this break.
Since August 3, 2019, India have played a staggering total of 38 international matches (with two matches washed out), which is TWELVE more than the second-most overworked team, Australia, who have played 26 matches. In other words, from August 3, 2019, to February 29, 2020, in a 211-day time period, the Indian team played an international game every 5.5 days on average. Given 9 of those 38 games were Test matches, considering every Test lasted 4 days on average, India have spent a total of 65 days since August 3 just on the field. All this excluding practice, travel and everything else that comes with the rigours of international cricket.
What’s more flabbergasting, if anything, is that the team had already set off to play a three-match ODI series against South Africa at home and were mentally bracing themselves to slog it out for two months in the IPL before they were strapped to the comforts of their homes by the Covid-19 virus outbreak. How the people in charge let this happen in the first place and how this is even humanely acceptable is a question that needs to be raised.
The good thing that has come out of this (out)break is that it gives everyone the time to reflect on the monstrosity that has been inflicted on some of these players. Had it never been for this, the show would have gone on, whilst the players bleed more and more to the point that they eventually collapse, literally having nothing to offer from their end. Which is exactly as to why this is a much, much-needed rest for them.
In fact, the amount of good this break would do to some of the players - and as a result, the whole team - is quite unimaginable. With people crying their hearts out, begging the team management to rest Kohli and with he, himself, admitting that all this could take a mental toll on him as he ages, it is impossible to comprehend how much this break could potentially help the Indian skipper reset, refresh, re-energize and revamp himself. With Kohli having shown clear signs of mental fatigue in the New Zealand tour, one can only wonder what would have happened had Kohli shouldered the burden of leading RCB for two months with nothing left in his energy meter. For all we know, this break could help him evaluate where he is, what he wants to do, fine-tune his game and re-emerge as the run-scoring machine that he was up until the 2019 World Cup.
Then comes Rishabh Pant. At one point, it looked like sending him on a two-month vacation and making him completely forget about the game was the only feasible way of making him re-discover his form and survive in this sport. Looks like the Cricketing Gods have had their own say on the matter, witnessing how terribly the poor chap was mismanaged. This long lay-off also enables the likes of Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan and Deepak Chahar to completely recover from their injuries, while it also stops the management from running Bumrah to the ground, which they were well on their way to doing before the crisis broke out.
They say that you don’t have to make the most out of a global pandemic, but in India’s case, well, they have no choice but to utilize this period, for everyone knows that they are going back to being the machines they were when normalcy resumes. That it came down to a worldwide crisis to give the players the rest they deserve is a shame, but they will and should take it, nevertheless.