Pioneering a return in the new normal
No matter how dreadful the situation is, and no matter how others are doing, there are some people who simply need to get the job done.While cricketers have been working on their fitness at home and Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) officials have mostly been working from home since the coronavirus outbreak, groundsmen and venue personnel have had no choice but to show up and keep the grounds in shape.
"We have no other choice. We would be unable to enter the ground on the third day if we did not work for two straight days because grass just grows that rapidly," Syed Abdul Baten, national manager of the BCB grounds committee, said.
Jahangir Alam, a groundsman at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah, said he was aware of his responsibilities and so bore no grudges despite the fact that he had to face difficult times, especially when his locality of Narayanganj was hit by the pandemic.
"Since it's our job, we have to keep working. We are working a single shift from 8:00am to 5:00pm. My house is a bit far from the stadium. In many cases, I have had to come to work on foot because of the lockdown. Sometimes I have been able to come and go in rickshaws," Alam said. "We use masks. We use hand sanitizer. Yes, the going is tougher than ever. The situation in the country is not so good. But we are bound to work and we are trying like we used to because it's our duty."
What such examples are showing is that it is possible to keep the coronavirus at bay if protocols are strictly maintained in the new normal.
"We have 200 groundsmen all over the country and they work because they need to. Thanks to Allah, nobody has been infected so far. Everybody is sincerely maintaining the rules. Venues are following hygiene and safety standards as per the BCB's Covid-19 guidelines," Baten informed.
The protocols have been maintained so well that they are confident they can resume activities when called upon.
"We have been trying our best to maintain everything. We may need five to seven days to get the venue ready if the board wants to start activities within a very short time. We have been able to do everything because of the BCB's proper guidelines," Fatullah Stadium curator, Shafiul Alam Belal, said.
The break has also been a blessing in disguise as the suspension of cricketing activities gave venues, especially the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, much-needed respite.
"The rest was necessary for a few grounds because they held matches continually. This break helps refresh venues," the curator of Chattogram's Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Zahid Reza Babu, said.
Baten agreed: "A break always helps keep venues fit."
As part of BCB's efforts to facilitate its exit strategy following the disruption caused by the pandemic, major international and first class venues have been undergoing maintenance and groundsmen and personnel have kept facilities fully prepared so that cricketers can get back on the field sooner rather than later.
Although the buzz will be different when cricketers return to action, unsung heroes, like groundsmen, must also be remembered for overcoming the odds and ensuring a return to normalcy for the rest of us.