In a meeting via teleconference on Thursday, the chief executive committee (CEC) of the International Cricket Council (ICC) discussed the deviation caused due to coronavirus. BCCI Secretary Jay Shah representing the board on call specified the ‘new rules of the game’ as BCCI has indicated picking up from where it lost its way back in 2015. The statement was a clear shift of power as the BCCI sought to take responsibility on a global front after a good five to six years.
“In the given scenario, there are pressing points that need to be addressed. We understand the apprehensions that may arise for many cricket boards at this juncture and the BCCI will do its best to support the fraternity. India will lead the way in charting out the future course of action,” Shah said in the conference as most member boards agreed.
Members attending the meeting said that the BCCI secretary led the way for the conference, affirming for the first time after taking charge of his present role, that it is time for India to assume leadership at the ICC again.
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According to reports, the Future Tour Program (FTP) of the ICC that has been the biggest topic of conversation over the last two years will be re-examined. The immediate implications of a distressed FTP due to the pandemic means the possibility of a Test Championship cycle continuing this year is very unlikely.
As postponement of cricket seems inevitable considering the current circumstances, the amount of interim financial turmoil faced by a lot of members boards of the ICC is also going to be huge.
The ICC sent out a statement later in the day saying “The CEOs of the 12 Full Members and three Associate representatives confirmed their full commitment to work in partnership to address the challenges the sport will face in the coming weeks and months. The meeting heard updates from all attendees regarding the current situation in their own countries.”
In the context of the FTP programme, which will go through a collective review through to 2023 and rescheduling fixtures, the ICC stated “ Discussions and decisions on this and the future of both the “World Test Championship” and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League will be held at a later date when there is a greater understanding of the impact of the cricket that has been lost on the competitions.”
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The CEC was updated to resume contingency plans for all ICC global events, including the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020 and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2021. Planning for both events as currently scheduled is ongoing.
Even as the CEC was tweaking its own agenda and trying to find ways to getting the game back to the field, one of the icons of the sport Sachin Tendulkar, was dismissing the idea of playing in front of empty stadiums -- something being seriously considered by many broadcasters as the way to get sport back on track.
“Empty stadiums would be so disappointing for players who are competing,” Tendulkar said.
“There are a lot of times when players respond to spectators. If I play a good shot and the manner in which the crowd responds also brings in that energy.” he said. Similarly, if a bowler bowls a fiery spell and the crowd is responding to it, it builds a kind of pressure on the batsman and he needs to respond to it.”
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“Spectators are integral to any sport. Their encouragement, vociferous chants for or against you is a necessity in sport.”
On being asked about the impacts and coping mechanism of the cricket world once the world returns to being normal. He said “I think players will be wary for some time when it comes to using saliva [to shine the ball]. It will play on their minds. Social distancing measures will be followed till the deadly virus is around.”
“High-fives and hugging your teammates will be avoided for some time. This is what I would like to believe. They will be conscious to begin with and may maintain social distancing,” Tendulkar added.
“Beating this virus is paramount and after that, a number of things can be simultaneously discussed. But they can only materialise if we overcome this challenge and if we are able to do so, then no harm in having those discussions,” he added.
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Discussing the kind of impact athletes might suffer once the pandemic is over he expressed, “Once an athlete goes out to compete, that athlete wants to win. Not winning will still bring disappointment and that will continue I feel. That’s what makes that event a terrific spectacle.”
Tendulkar also highlighted the need to discuss mental health among athletes, something mostly ignored but brought to sharp focus during the ongoing crisis. “I think mental fitness is an important element which everyone consciously or unconsciously ignores. That needs to be addressed. If you are feeling mentally disturbed, you should have the right people around you to support you, encourage you and pull you out of that rut,” he said.
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