All you cricket fans out there among the blog’s readers (yes, both of you) will be pleased to learn that Test cricket has begun again. In the US there are a lot of debates going on about when and how to bring back professional sports, discussions that struggle to keep up with the changing rate of covid-19 infections. I had assumed that cricket was also on hiatus and so was surprised that a Test match, the highest level of international cricket that lasts five days, had come back with the West Indies scheduled to play three Tests in England. The first Test began on Wednesday and ends today this article explains what changes have been made as a result of the covid-19 virus.
The players and officials are required to stay at the on-site hotels at each ground. All the players and officials and staff members from both the teams will also be screened daily for symptoms and regularly tested for COVID-19 throughout the match. The bio-secure grounds have been divided into designated zones to keep the two teams, match officials, ground staff and the media separate. The movement between the zones will also be strictly limited.
Because Test matches last five days, teams will be allowed to make a substitution for any player who develops covid-19 symptoms during the game,
To minimize the need for travel, the requirement that umpires be from neutral countries (i.e., are not from either of the two teams playing) is being relaxed.
There will be no fans in the stadiums and crowd noise will be added to the telecast. (Is that really necessary?) The lack of fans in the stadium may not be too much of a problem for Test matches because those matches are more sedate and attendance tends to be low, unless they are between teams that have a long-standing rivalry, such as England vs. Australia or India vs. Pakistan. But it will be problematic for the shorter forms of the game, like the one-day version or the three-hour version, which is where much of the money lies. The Indian Premier League, for example, has fans packing the stadiums for its three-hour games and they have fireworks and cheerleaders and all manner of attractions that result in huge crowds. I do not know what the future of that format is.
Players will also no longer be allowed to put saliva on the ball. This was always an awful practice and I am glad that covid-19 has caused it to be abolished. It also resulted in cheating scandals where players (in one case the Sri Lankan cricket captain) were accused of eating sticky candies and then putting that sticky saliva on the ball, which is against the rules. By eliminating all saliva, that gets rid of the problem of having to monitor what players are eating on the field.
I was listening to an interview about the restart of baseball where new rules will eliminate spitting. Baseball players seem to spit all the time and it is gross. Apparently some players are complaining about not being allowed to spit because it is supposedly part of the tradition of the game. Why that is so baffles me, unless it is because players chew tobacco. If that is the case, then eliminating spitting should be even more welcomed because chewing tobacco is a highly dangerous practice that can lead to mouth cancer. Is there any other sport where players chew tobacco?