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Should cricketers face the Covid-19 risk?

Even though the Coronavirus pandemic is not yet under control, many countries are gearing up to stage their bilateral series. Would this not put cricketers under risk just for the joy of watching them play from the isolated comforts of our homes? While it is true that factories need to start functioning now, should cricket too commence before the Covid-19 curve is flattened?   

Exciting cricket came to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic.  Image source I&B Govt of India 

Should we really put all our cricketers to risk?  Many nations are planning to have their bilateral series and are planning to play in front of empty stadiums. Is there a need to hurry to watch matches especially when the Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t yet come under control?

When the Pakistan cricketers were tested for the Coronavirus prior to their England tour, three of their players Haider Ali, Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan showed positive. This shows that cricketers who are making themselves available for the tour are unaware of their health status.  Dr Sohail Saleem, Pakistan Cricket Board’s Director of Sports Medicine, has revealed that the tour of England is a big risk.

It is a fact that cricket boards are reeling under financial strain due to absence of matches, but is the risk worth it?  Surely no one can guarantee a fool proof method against this virus even if it is only the players on the ground, umpires and those involved with the broadcast of the match.

Cricket South Africa conducted mass testing on their 100 employees, which included their contracted players. Seven of them have been found to be positive. The board is not willing to reveal their names and it is also not clear whether there were players among them. If there were no players among those tested positive they could have announced that their players are safe. In Bangladesh, former captain Mashrafe Mortaza, Nazmul Islam and Nafeez Iqbal have also been tested positive.

Every cricketer is hungry to play and fans must be eager to watch them in action. India is the team that every other country wants to play. It is important to remember that India is one among the nations that have been badly hit by the pandemic. How can then one sit back and enjoy cricket during such a crisis even though the players maybe playing outside of India? Many believe that cricket can be a distraction from the current distress, but I am not sure whether that should be at the risk of our players right now.

All cricketing nations are trying to beat the financial crunch as soon as possible. Sri Lanka is bravely planning to stage their T20 league in August. It is true that life has to go on and cricket should happen too, but the safety of players and all those involved in hosting it should be of utmost importance. These cricketers will be risking their health and playing while we enjoy the game from the comforts of our home. 

The International Cricket Council has permitted replacing players who display symptoms of Covid-19 during a Test match. That raises the question on the mental status of all those players who were playing with that infected player.

Cricket is not something which has to start immediately like a factory for people to earn their daily living.  Cricket or any other sport is not an essential service that needs to commence at the earliest. So let us be a little more prudent and wait for the Coronavirus curve to flatten worldwide before the contest between the bat and the ball begins.

Cricket and Covid 19
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