After the corona pandemic brought the world and fields of sports to a standstill, cricket finally has got it’s breathing space. After 117 days, players from England and West Indies will play a historic test match at Southampton in England. With the Corona wave setting in as early as March, Australia and New Zealand last played a test on March 13. Cricket has been interrupted by war, terrorist attacks and political crises. But this series, played amid a global pandemic, will be a genuine first
Cricket would be back but the normal would be different. Covid-19 has forced crowds out of the stadium. Saliva can’t be used to shine the ball and the celebratory hugs and handshakes are too banned. Precautions have been taken all way right from the start. The West Indies squad arrived in England in early June and were quarantined and tested multiple times for Covid-19. Both the squad lived and trained under the bio-secure bubble. The number of DRS reviews has been increased and non-neutral umpires would stand-in as suggested by the Anil Kumble Committee.
How the teams would shape up?
West Indies and England had always had their bowling departments to the full firepower. Shanon Gabriels, Kemar Roach from the WI and James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer would be all set to be in action. The Batting lineups from both the teams would be up for tests. With Joe Root on a paternity leave to attend to the birth of his child, Stokes stands in as the captain. Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Sibley and Burns would form a new-look Top 4 for the hosts while Shamarh Brooks would fill the Number 4 spot for the visitors. The squads played intra-squad matches for prep and it remains interesting to see how players from both the squads adapt to the new conditions.
England: Ben Stokes (C), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wk), Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
West Indies: Jason Holder (C), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich (wk), Shannon Gabriel, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer, Kemar Roach.
Rain showers are expected for the first two days in Southampton. With the new norms and regulations, the contests would be looked excitingly upon but also closely as the future, for now, stands unclear but this series could just be the guiding light for the cricket associations around the world. As they always say, Cricket would be the winner !