Five months ago, who would have been able to believe that a deadly, invisible pathogen will appear and wreck the entire world in the most unimaginable ways? To our astonishment, it did arrive and so arrived a new world order. There is nothing left untouched; nothing spared by the ravages of the novel coronavirus.
We all have grown in and shifted towards a “new normal” in these trying times. Grappling with the most unseen issues, coming to terms with the most unbelievable changes. Between social distancing and bio-secure bubbles, between updates of vaccines to cries of testing every day, nothing has stayed the way it was.
And of course, sports has changed too. Much to everyone’s relief, it has resumed, but certainly not in the way it used to be. Speculation that haunted all the cricket aficionados thoroughly until late last month was the cancellation of the mighty Indian Premier League (IPL). In what was the most soothing and comforting news, it was confirmed by the governing council in tandem with the BCCI that IPL will be organized in the UAE instead of India.
Forget a whimper, “Yay”, screamed all the fanatics including yours truly. For what else do we want than a chance to witness our beloved tournament? But how could one expect the dynamics of IPL to stay unaltered in the new normal? And hence there’s a twist to our love affair with the IPL this time.
Let’s find 10 such things that will be certainly missed by the fans this season-
1. Behind closed doors
There is nothing that could replace the physical presence of the passionate and boisterous fans inside a cricket stadium. A crowd is faceless, but it’s certainly not voiceless, and no one needs to be told about the decibel levels that are reached inside a packed house when it’s about cricket.
Even though it’s true that cricket behind closed doors has not proved to be as nightmarish as it once seemed to be, the absence of the crowd creates one void that can’t be denied. However, being aware of the incredible spreading abilities of the virus, it’s only fair to let go of the idea of having spectators inside the stadiums.
2. No use of saliva
Given the fact the virus transmits through droplets, the use of saliva cannot be permitted at any cost. This restriction has brought a certain change in the game and will definitely leave an effect on this year’s IPL as well. Even though it may not appear a thing to be missed by the fans, the impact brought by it on the game can never be denied.
The balance between the bat and the ball has been on a constant decline. Cricket is increasingly becoming a batsmen-oriented game, and no use of saliva only widens the gulf between the batsmen and the bowlers. Consequentially, the contest will become less exciting and even though the results of this restriction will not affect the viewers directly or significantly, there are minor changes that the connoisseurs of cricket would be able to identify.
3. No handshakes or hugging
The beauty of the sport lies in vehement on-field competition but amiable camaraderie off it. Even after the harshest of results, the game of cricket always witnessed the adversaries reach out to each other warmly and shake hands at the end of the match.
Being aware of the incredible spreading abilities of the virus, there have been all sorts of recommendations to mitigate human-to-human contact as far as possible. Therefore, there could be other ways of greeting each other, but handshakes or even hugging? Not anymore!
4. No celebrations
In a bid to ensure the safety and well-being of the players, is not just handshakes but all forms of physical interactions amongst the players have been banished. With the resumption of cricket in the pandemic-stricken world, the new methodology and mannerism of celebrating moments on the field have changed immensely.
The sights of players jumping and climbing all over each other jovially after a rocket throw dismisses an explosive batsman or the scenes of a bowler being hopped over and grounded by his teammates after getting a wicket at a crucial juncture are witnessed no more. Players are often seen nudging elbows, touching toes, or giving a fist pump to acknowledge a moment of joy in the field. And that is how it is going to be in the IPL this year.
5. No post-match presentations
Is there any moment better than watching geniuses such as Harsha Bhogle interact with other geniuses like MS Dhoni? Isn’t it great fun to watch and listen to the views of the players after they win or lose a match? It certainly is. As supporters of different captains, fans take post-match shows as a moment to gain insights and opinions of the players.
But the fact that all the players, support staff, coaches, umpires, physios, etc. need to maintain social distancing and be in a bio-secure environment, only essential staff apart from them will be allowed. So in order to maintain a flurry of protocols of social distancing and eliminating close contact, there won’t be any post-match shows, presentations, or one on one interviews this time.
6. No press conferences
Press conferences are a brilliant form of interaction between the players and the media. On so many occasions in the past, a lot of interesting stories, incidents, moments, and thoughts have come out during the question-answer sessions organised through these conferences. Press meetings also happen to be one great platform for making queries, raising questions, understanding the different on-field moments in detail by the players themselves.
However, the fact that such conferences are conducted in jam-packed rooms with the men of press from a host of news channels, newspapers, digital media platforms, etc., there is no chance that an arrangement for such large congregations could be made possible.
7. No dressing room chatters
The interest of many cricket zealots does not stay limited to what happens on the field and during the match, but also to what happens behind the scenes; when barely any cameras are around. IPL brings many lighthearted and happy-go-lucky cricketers not just from India but from around the world, under one roof. All the players we marvel at form a dressing room and we can only imagine what kind of an atmosphere these places have.
But to everyone’s good fortune and with the advent of social media platforms, many players began to indulge in some carefree and fun activities and capture moments for their fans to enjoy and cherish. However, this year the players won’t be sharing a common dugout like all the previous editions and therefore there won’t be any dressing room stories to relish for the fans.
8. No franchise owners for support
Be it the bubbly Preity Zinta excitedly supporting her team Kings XI Punjab or the poised Shilpa Shetty waving a blue flag for Rajasthan Royals or the swagger of Shah Rukh Khan from the stadium’s balcony, none of it would be visible this year. The franchise owners have created many memorable instances by interacting with cricket players on the field.
It is the interaction of players with such dazzling Bollywood starts that makes IPL a perfect blend of cricket, glamour, and entertainment. Although this time not only the franchise owners won’t be present to witness the proceedings live from the ground, they would not even be able to involve in cheerful activities and engagements with different players like always.
9. No family members
The feeling of witnessing the family members of players cheering for their team, praying for their victory, and supporting them with warmth is immense. Over the years, the presence of the better halves and children of different players on the ground has been a regular sight. We all have seen Mrs. Dhoni calmly supporting MS with their adorable daughter Ziva in her lap.
So have Anushka Sharma, Geeta Basra, Priyanka Raina, etc. been spotted on various occasions supporting their spouse and the entire team with a grin on their face. However, this year the family members of the players will not have such easy access to the movement and they are not permitted to even travel on the same vehicles as members of the support staff to the venues of the training and matches.
10. No mascots
A very common sight of all the IPL matches is the coming out of mascots alongside match referees, umpires, and the two captains at the time of toss. There are not any such sights on offer this time as the mode of the toss has been changed as well.
Not only there would not be any mascots walking out unlike all the past editions of the league, but the traditional form of exchanging team sheets at the brink of the match to inform the opposite team about the playing eleven will also be carried out in a new, electronic avatar. As per reports, the captain and management are supposed to share the team sheets in digital form to avoid physical contact.
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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