The cricketing action will return after all but four months with England hosting the West Indies for a three-match Test series. The first Test of the series will take place at Ageas Bowl, Southampton from July 8 and the cricket aficionados can now catch the action on their TV set.
Meanwhile there is no doubt that it is going to be a different series altogether during the Covid-19 era. Firstly, there will be no crowd as the matches will be played behind closed doors.
Consequently, it would be a surreal feeling for the players as there would be no cheer or hooting from the stands. Generally, a boundary is applauded by claps by the English supporters and there would be none in the series. However, the players will need to adjust quickly and get on with the game as getting crowds into the stadium is going to take some time.
The players might feel that they are playing a domestic circuit match where there is hardly any crowd. A big impact of no crowd will be felt by the home board. As no crowd will turn out for the match, there will be no match ticket sales and hence the England and Wales Cricket board will suffer huge monetary losses.
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In fact, all the cricket boards have already suffered a lot of loss due to coronavirus as no matches have been possible in the last few months. No crowd revenue is going to add salt to the injury.
The players also need to maintain social distancing norms while playing. Ergo, we won’t be witnessing any kind of high fives or a team hurdle. The players would need to maintain the distance between themselves.
One of the much talked about aspects has been the saliva ban. ICC Cricket Committee has banned the use of saliva after consulting with the medical experts and thus it would be interesting to note how the fast bowlers will get swing sans saliva. English conditions are known for providing swing and all the eyes will be on world-class bowlers like James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Kemar Roach.
Will the curator be asked to prepare the pitch friendly for the bowlers or will there be any kind of other change? We will need to wait for the answers. The bowlers would need to be more accurate in their line and length to trouble the batsmen as they cannot shine the ball with their saliva.
The players will take some time before getting used to the new laws. On the other hand, the organisers will need to make sure that the bio-secure environment is maintained throughout the series.
England will definitely be favourites and the hosts will be led by Ben Stokes in the absence of full-time skipper Joe Root in the first Test. However, the hosts won’t like to make a mistake of taking the visitors lightly. Both the teams have an inexperienced batting order and the contest would be down to the bowlers.