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Thursday, June 18, 2020

WI arrive in England ~ will Test Cricket resume !!

Most of us were following it and were not happy when India folded again at Christchurch.  On Mar 2,2020, NZ cleansed a whitewash and reached no. 2 in Test rankings - their bowlers took 47 minutes to take the four remaining India wickets and then their openers made the 132-run target look easier than it was in conditions that continued to be torturous for the batsmen. The depth in New Zealand's five-man seam attack outshone India's three-man party, which was missing Ishant Sharma and also had to deal with an injured Mohammed Shami on the third day.  The scorecard reads :   New Zealand 235 (Latham 52, Jamieson 49, Shami 4-81, Bumrah 3-62) and 132 for 3 (Blundell 55, Latham 51) beat India 242 (Vihari 55, Agarwal 54, Pujara 54, Jamieson 5-45) and 124 (Boult 4-28, Southee 3-36) by seven wickets.

We never thought that for months that would be the last Test played .. .. today the Corona count is reported to be : 8,408,204 with death toll globally put at 4.51 lakhs !!   

Most sensible people are out with masks ! – masks has thus become our integral part of life .. .. ever  since health experts and agencies around the world started to stress the wearing of masks – or “face coverings” – as one of the best ways to restrict the spread of the novel coronavirus infection.  The question asked is what kind ? – surgical, cloth masks, multi-layered ones or N95 !  While research remains ongoing, most experts agree that N95 respirators provide the best protection against Covid-19; however, these masks are meant mostly for specialised use, and are expensive and uncomfortable to wear for long.  “Most of these masks have a hydrophobic exterior. You can check whether your mask has this hydrophobic layer by placing a drop of water on it, and if the mask is water resistant, the droplet will roll off!. 
Roddy Estwick with Jason Holder

Understand that N is Respirator rating.    It stands for “Non-Oil” meaning that if no oil-based particulates are present, then you can use the mask in the work environment. Other masks ratings are R (resistant to oil for 8 hours) and P (oil proof). 95: Masks ending in a 95, have a 95 percent efficiency.  .3 microns: The masks filter out contaminants like dusts, mists and fumes. The minimum size of .3 microns of particulates and large droplets won’t pass through the barrier, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)  The filtration material on the mask is an electrostatic non-woven polypropylene fiber.  Some disposable N95 masks come with an optional exhalation valve. “The presence of an exhalation valve reduces exhalation resistance, which makes it easier to breathe (exhale,)” according to the CDC.

Covid 19 pandemic has impacted Sports and Cricket in particular.    Bangladesh's matches against Ireland were postponed on 21 March 2020. On 24 March 2020, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed that all ICC qualifying events scheduled to take place before 30 June 2020 had been postponed. On 9 April 2020, Australia's tour to Bangladesh was postponed.  IPL too was postponed.

Cricket Australia chairman Earl Eddings believes it is "unlikely" and "unrealistic" that the Men's T20 World Cup will take place in Australia as scheduled this year. The fate of the tournament, scheduled between October 18 and November 15, is being deliberated fiercely by the ICC Board which last week deferred to take the final call. The ICC has continued to remain optimistic despite the growing likelihood of the tournament being postponed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Eddings, who sits on the ICC Board, though, felt time was running out. He pointed out that with many of the 16 participating countries still under the grip of the pandemic it was "very, very difficult" to stage the tournament and said that CA had presented different options to the ICC Board for the tournament to be moved.

West Indies is all set to resume its international cricket with a Test series against England starting from July 8. They reached the United Kingdom last week and are quarantined and training in Manchester in a bio-secure environment. While the players were tested before departing for the tour and will be again tested during the isolation period.  The West Indies squad have landed in Manchester and are now safely tucked away in their hotel, which overlooks the pitch at Old Trafford. For the next fortnight they will be in quarantine practising for the cricketing challenges ahead. It will not be a fun tour as of old because players will be locked away in a bio-secure bubble during and between matches over the next seven weeks.

The tourists, coming from a region that has avoided the worst excesses of the pandemic, are making significant sacrifices by agreeing to play in a country that has endured the second highest number of deaths from the virus in the world. No wonder the England and Wales Cricket Board is so grateful they are here.  Jason Holder, now a long-serving and highly respected captain, recognises the significance of a series that has acquired historic status. It has become a trailblazing event that can demonstrate cricket is possible in these bleak circumstances and, despite what the cynics may say, it will be the first Test series to be played without any spectators present. The Caribbean team last played international cricket in March in Sri Lanka where they played 3 ODIs and a couple of T20 Internationals. Rather they will be playing Tests after a long time having last featured in the format in December last year in a one-off Test against Afghanistan.

As West Indies is set to play the Test series against England, Windies assistant coach Roddy Estwick believes that their fast bowlers can be a massive challenge for the hosting side. He opined that the bowlers are working more on fitness which is key to beat the opposition. West Indies consisting of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and captain Jason Holder in their pace attack will play the first Test match in Southampton from July 8. Estwick said that Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph had gained enough experience from their past performance. Also, Kemar and Shannon’s presence makes them the challenging team in the world, as per the coach.

Roderick Orville Estwick  is a former Barbadian first-class cricketer. A fast bowler, he played for Barbados, toured Zimbabwe with a Young West Indies team in 1983-84, and played for Transvaal.  He won the South African Cricket Annual Cricketer of the Year award in 1988 after taking 36 wickets at 16.41 in his first season in South Africa. His best first-class bowling figures were 6 for 68 against Leeward Islands in 1983-84. His highest score was 43 not out in the 1987-88 Castle Currie Cup final, when, batting at number 11, he added 74 for the tenth wicket with Ray Jennings.  He is the half-brother of West Indian cricketer Sylvester Clarke. He is currently one of the Assistant Coaches to the Regional West Indies Senior Team.

Jason Holder, West Indies' captain, says that his team must prepare to embrace the "new normal" after touching down in England to embark on a historic Test series, but admits that the shift in global narrative, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, could help to galvanise his squad in such extraordinary circumstances. "It's not going to be a normal bilateral series here in England," said Holder. "But at the end of the day this is where we are with the state of world cricket - the state of the world, per se. No doubt it will be different. But we just have to get on with it and try to make the most of the circumstances in these trying times."

When asked if West Indies would join the BLM protests during the Tests, perhaps by taking a knee in the manner of the NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Holder insisted that he could not speak on behalf of his team-mates until they had decided as a squad how to respond. "I just want equality to excel - to get everyone on the same page. So we can have less fighting, less killing, less adversity in society. For me that is the main message I would like to contribute."- said Holder.

Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul -  refused to tour England for the three-Test series, to be  conducted in a bio-secure environment to combat the COVID-19 threat.  “Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all declined the invitation to travel to England for the tour and CWI fully respects their decision to choose to do so,” Cricket West Indies said in a statement.

England face a mounting bill to ensure the Test series against West Indies takes place in July, with the need to charter private flights for the tourists and cover the cost of up to 15 additional squad players. As the recipient of all broadcast revenues the home board for an international series would, in normal times, pay for the away team’s travel and accommodation up to a set number of people – roughly 25 players and support staff – as well as providing tour fees and individual daily expenses allowances. This time West Indies need a squad of 25-30 players for what is planned to be seven weeks in the UK, including four weeks of quarantine and training before the first Test on 8 July.  The breakdown of the bill makes up part of the negotiations between the two boards but, along with the additional cost of creating biosecure conditions, it appears a price worth paying for the England and Wales Cricket Board given each Test is estimated to be worth £20m in broadcast revenue.

The new normal is far different than what normal was !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1 comment:

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