A perfect advertisement for cricket in coronavirus era | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:52 AM, July 30, 2020

A perfect advertisement for cricket in coronavirus era

The just-concluded Test series between England and West Indies had some memorable performances in front of empty stands across two venues and the series came as a delight to cricket-starved fans across the globe amid the pandemic.

Two of England's 'big match' performers played key roles despite a lack of crowd support, with Ben Stokes scoring 176 and 78 not out in the second Test and paceman Stuart Broad becoming just the seventh bowler to take 500 Test wickets when he reached the landmark on Tuesday.

England won the Wisden Trophy back from the West Indies after coming back from behind and captain Joe Root heaped rich praise on Stuart Broad and James Anderson after the series victory, saying it was a privilege for them to play with two of the world's finest fast bowlers.

But the collective effort of people who helped make England-West Indies series a reality after the enforced break due to the novel coronavirus pandemic has certainly given the cricket community much-needed hope and confidence.

When the pandemic disrupted the global sporting calendar, forcing the postponement or cancellation of some of the biggest tournaments, not many would have imagined international cricket as early as July.

Kudos to England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket West Indies for making it happen and giving the fans of the sport something to cherish during the difficult times. It wasn't easy but the two cricket boards made sure the series went ahead without any major setbacks.

Despite fears that life in a bio-secure bubble -- with teams holed up in onsite hotels and no spectators allowed into grounds to guard against the spread of Covid-19 --  might produce equally sterile cricket, both sides produced a high standard.

Fears a ban on shining the ball with saliva would neuter bowlers proved largely groundless, with sweat allied to seam movement off the pitch and helpful overhead conditions allied to the skills of the attacks.

The one concerning moment came when England had to omit Jofra Archer from the second Test after it emerged the fast bowler had breached regulations by making an unauthorised trip home following the West Indies' four-wicket win in the series opener at Southampton.

England director Ashley Giles said Archer's error "could have cost us tens of millions of pounds" but he added he was a "fine young man" who would learn from his mistake.

The players lived and trained in in the bubble for more than 2 months and Jason Holder said "same hotels, same rooms" were challenging and players were a bit "mentally worn out" by the end of 7 weeks.

The historic series is not just going to be remembered for the high-quality action on the field but also for everything off it that made an entire cricket community believe that it can rise above the coronavirus threat and get the sport back on its feet.

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