Happy to see the crowd, but safety is paramount

With the pandemic still with us the sight of some spectators without masks was a bit worrying. Basic precautions should not be forgotten for that’s the only way to stay safe.

Fans during the second Test match between India and England at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. Some of them were careless, without their masks and it was not a good sight feels the author.   -  Sportzpics / BCCI

It was good to see crowds back for the second Test match between India and England in Chennai and they certainly enjoyed Rohit Sharma getting a classy hundred on a pitch where the ball started turning in the pre-lunch session of the first day. He was either right forward or skipped down the pitch on nimble feet to neutralise any turn the spinners were getting.

It was a masterly exhibition of batting and his partnership with Ajinkya Rahane was a crucial one. There was some loose talk before the second Test about Rohit’s form since he had not scored big runs in the previous couple of Test matches and he quelled all that talk with a superb display of batting.

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Even as the crowds enjoyed the action and the chance of seeing their favourite players, what was worrying was the sight of most of them sitting in close proximity with each other and not wearing a mask. Hopefully nothing serious will happen but when so much care has been taken all this while, then to see some carelessness was not a good sight.

Yes, these days there is the added attraction of being shown on TV for the crowds and they bring placards etc to get noticed or dress in a way where the cameras will find and show them. That said, basic precautions should not be forgotten for that’s the only way to stay safe.

The Australian Open tennis tournament had to close its doors to the public as a few cases resurfaced in Melbourne city and the rest of the tournament was played without crowds which took away the excitement quite a bit.

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There is no doubt that crowds bring out the best in performers and the applause acts like a tonic for even better deeds. In sport, where there are crowds and there is the possibility of the ball going into the stands, adequate precautions need to be taken about disinfecting the ball when it comes back from the crowd.

While the players and officials practice social distancing and are in a bio-secure bubble, when the ball is touched by anyone outside the bubble it needs to be sanitised and disinfected before it can be used again. In cricket that’s a bit difficult as that could change the condition of the ball significantly to the advantage or detriment of either side. In the recent IPL played in the UAE every time the ball went into the stands the umpires used another ball despite there being no crowds but then in a 20 overs game the ball doesn’t change significantly to help either side.

Cricket enthusiasts, who have been deprived of international cricket while Motera was being reconstructed, will flock to the ground for the third and fourth Tests of the series and that will make it even more exciting for the players.   -  Vijay Soneji

 

Joe Root has been in phenomenal form and is reeling off hundreds for fun. There has never been any doubts about the class and talent of the England captain and while he was getting scores over 50 regularly he wasn’t able to turn them into hundreds as his contemporaries Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith were doing. They were thus rightfully being recognised as the top three in the game.

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Now that Root is getting the hundreds and big ones at that, he can sit at the same table as Kohli, Williamson and Smith. Babar Azam is another fine batsman but like Root was, till a couple of seasons back, he is getting half-centuries but not the hundreds that will get people talking about him like the Fab Four.

The next Test is going to be at the redone Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad which has a capacity of over 100,000 people. Even if 50 per cent of the capacity is allowed for the matches that is going to be a huge number of people. There are no bigger fans of the game than the Gujaratis who have been deprived of international cricket while Motera was being reconstructed and they will flock to the ground and that will make it even more exciting for the players.

Let’s hope the players rise to the occasion and make the return of international cricket to Motera an unforgettable one.

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