Cricket has made its return with the Test series being played between England and the West Indies in England in locked down stadiums. It is unusual seeing a Test match in England played in an empty stadium, but it is as they call it the new norm.
The series is locked at one all with the final Test also scheduled for Old Trafford, the venue of the second Test. The series has so far produced good, old-fashioned Test cricket. The difference between the teams has been Ben Stokes. He has matured into a fantastic all-rounder and, in the words of England captain Joe Root, he is “a great of the game”. After the second Test most critics would certainly agree with Root.
The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the game of cricket are indebted to the West Indies for agreeing to tour despite the threat of the coronavirus. In this regard they have certainly been pioneers in the new norm.
The ECB is starting to feel comfortable that the coronavirus is under control. The good news is that Pakistan and Australia are due to visit England this summer. Also, County cricket starts on 1 August with first-class cricket and then the full Vitality Blast will take place. They are even considering allowing spectators to attend these matches. The ECB must be congratulated for making the most of a summer that has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus.
Cricket around the world is starting to make a return as well, with the Indian Premier League due to take place in the United Arab Emirates during September and October. Also, the Big Bash League has been scheduled to start early in December. During this period India will also be touring Australia. The ICC World CupT20 has been postponed to 2021 to enable the two rich T20 tournaments to take place and international cricket to re-schedule postponed tours during this period.
In South Africa cricket has also started, with the Three Team Cricket Solidarity Cup at SuperSport Park. The Proteas are due to play the West Indies in a series for the Test Championship. There is also talk of India playing three T20 matches and England a One Day International series in South Africa before Christmas. Over the festive season Sri Lanka are due to tour for two Test matches. Domestic cricket will only start during November, with club and schools cricket starting in January 2021.
With a bit of luck with a vaccination imminent and the virus on the decline, cricket fans can once again return to the stadiums for a South African cricket season in the sun.