The COVID-19 situation not only generated an economic slump but also changed the entire industry of sportsbetting. One such sport is cricket. As a result, there was a change in the economic structure of international cricket as the lower-ranked nations struggled due to a lack of funds.
Critical revenue for sports like cricket comes from licensing of broadcast television rights. With a stop in the cricket matches, most sports teams faced a financial hit. Though Indian cricket is in a better position, smaller countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and West Indies are still facing challenges.
Let us take a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the cricket world in the past few years.
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How COVID-19 impacted the cricket world over the years
Before the start of the lockdown, the International cricket matches of India were significantly impacted. For example, the game between South Africa and India in the ODI series was played without having a crowd in its attendance. There was also a point of concern for the players who were playing amidst the raging and deadly pandemic and the fear of them contracting the virus.
The IPL tournament was postponed to April 15 in view of the COVID-19 situation. This put a considerable amount of pressure on the BCCI to altogether cancel the IPL. In addition, there was an increased risk for foreign players to come to join the tournament due to travel restrictions.
After the ICC or the International Cricket Council postponed the 2020 Men’s T20 World Cup, the BCCI had made a request to initiate the tournament in the United Arab Emirates from September 26 to November 8, 2020. On July 24, the match was confirmed to start on September 19, 2020. It was on October 25, 2020, the BCCI announced the playoff venues. Dubai hosted the finale, with many fans betting on the finale cricket match in India. And the other tournament venue, Sharjah, was selected for hosting the Women’s T20 Challenge in 2020.
Australia had a schedule of touring England in July 2020 in order to play three ODI or One Day International and three T20I or Twenty20 International matches. Because of the pandemic situation in May 2020, it was suggested that the dates be moved back to the month of September. There was a postponement on May 15, 2020, of the New Zealand tour of Ireland. Even Pakistan’s tour was called off.
On June 1, 2020, it was confirmed by the Professional Cricketers Association that the county cricketers would continue to have pay cuts of around 20 % from June to July. In August, the South African women’s tour in England got canceled. In November, the Cricket World Cup Super League fixtures between England and Netherlands were postponed.
Around May 2021, the total number of people affected by the COVID-19 virus was over 20 million. The situation was also similar for the cricket players of the country, as most of them were testing positive when it came to the virus. BCCI or the Board of Control for Cricket in India, along with the IPL GC or the Indian Premier League Governing Council, took a joint decision unanimously to hold an emergency meeting and postpone the IPL 2021 season.
The BCCI was not in a position to compromise the safety of the participants, players, and support staff who were actively involved in the organization of the Indian Premier League. Authorities took this decision on the basis of several factors. For instance, they had to keep in mind the well-being, health, and safety of the stakeholders. The final decision was made after four of the teams of the IPL were affected by the COVID-19 virus.
Cricket series of South Africa versus India was abandoned due to the ongoing pandemic situation. Due to the financial model devised for tiding over the recession of 2008, India was still likely to see the Big 3’s revenue-sharing model, whose share was to go to India, Australia, and England.
The Veteran administrator of South Africa and the former chief executive of ICC, Haroon Lorgat, stated that it would mean a survival battle for the weaker nations. They were of the opinion that without enough flow of cash, some nations could even struggle to meet their essential expenditure unless they receive support. This would indicate the result of some casualties. But few were hopeful that the ICC would aid the low-ranked countries to get back on their game after the end of the crisis.
Even the wealthiest boards of cricket, such as that of Australia, were in fear of losing over 174 million dollars if the coronavirus outbreak had impacted the test series against India. The possible IPL cancellation was about to cost the BCCI over 3000 crores. All the IPL franchises together hired over 600 people, which included some people and freelancers on the payroll. With the uncertainty of the revenue, their jobs were also under threat.
This made the Indian economy vulnerable, as most industries had a connection with the tournament. These included several kinds of industries. Some of the sectors that were at risk were hotels, airlines, logistic companies, and other support staff.
May 6, 2021, saw some English countries offering to host the remaining tournament matches in England in September 2021. On May 9, 2021, the BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly, ruled out any chances of the tournament getting completed in India or England. The reason behind this decision was the difficulties related to quarantine. BCCI was looking forward to playing the rest of the matches in October and September 2021, a plan that got confirmed on July 25, 2021.
The under-19 skipper of India, Yash Dhull, Sheikh Rasheed, his deputy and four other teammates tested positive for the virus that forced them out of the game of the Group World Cup against Ireland in Trinidad and Tarouba. Apart from Rasheed and Dhull, batters Vasu Vats, Aaradhya Yadav, Siddharth Yadav, and Manav Parakh got infected with the virus because of which India managed to field barely against Ireland. As per BCCI, Manav and Vasu were showing some symptoms of the virus, which is why they were isolated, keeping in mind all kinds of precautionary measures.
Though Rasheed and skipper Dhull were a part of the game against South Africa, Aaradhya was missing. Due to Dhull’s absence, Nishant Sindhu had to lead the team. The Indian team had played their opening match in Guyana and travelled later to Trinidad for their game against Ireland. It was suspected that the team members got affected by the virus while they were staying in Guyana.
COVID-19 also impacted the Ashes Test, where the number of positive cases had an effect upon the touring party of England. The cricket coach of England, Chris Silverwood, was going to be absent for the fourth Ashes due to the outbreak of COVID-19 on the camp of England’s team with seven COVID cases. Silverwood showed no signs until he was tested positive for the virus.
Glenn McGrath, the Australian pace legend, became positive days before the Pink Test, which was played in honor of his wife, who passed away due to breast cancer. The funds from the game were supposed to help support breast cancer patients who were suffering from the disease. In the meanwhile, the ODI white-ball cricket series between Ireland and the United States got canceled because of COVID-19 related concerns. Two support staff members of the Irish team became positive along with the partners of several players that resulting in deeming two players of Ireland as close contracts.
The Big Bash League was postponed after around 12 Heat players tested positive for the virus in their PCR test. This game was supposed to be between the Sydney Sixers and Brisbane Heat. At the present moment, they are in isolation.
Four members of the Zimbabwe squad for the ICC men’s Under 19 World Cup became positive with the virus. The news was confirmed by the cricket board of the country. Ireland cricketers such as Ben White and Simi Singh tested positive and had to be ruled out in the first ODI series against West Indies.
Though the fight against COVID-19 was tough, most International cricket teams managed to remain at the top of their game. From postponed matches to significant victories, the IPL continued to win the hearts of Indians. All of them were able to deliver a power-packed performance.
Even though most countries suffered due to the lack of funds, the situation started to improve. These signs were evident with the increasing number of bets on the cricket matches that are being held in comparison to the low number of matches in 2020.
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