Mumbai: From shining the ball to celebrating a dismissal — certain things may never be the same again when cricket restarts after the novel coronavirus pandemic, Indian batting great Sachin Tendulkar said on Thursday.
Cricketers use the age-old method of shining one side of the cricket ball with a combination of saliva and sweat, ostensibly to help bowlers generate more swing in the air.
But with increased focus on social distancing and personal hygiene to contain the spread of the virus, the sport stares at a changing landscape.
“Shining the ball will change I think,” Tendulkar, who will turn 47 on Friday, said in a telephone interview. “Everyone will be conscious of maintaining social distancing, giving high-fives to each other and hugging after celebrating the fall of a wicket.
“I don’t think those things are going to happen. It may happen instinctively but consciously players would want to make sure that they follow certain norms. During this period personal hygiene has been at the forefront.”
Cricket like all other sport has come to a grinding halt as countries closed borders and enforced lockdowns to fight the virus that has infected more than 2.66 million people globally and killed more than 186,000.
Australia, South Africa and England have been among many who have been forced to postpone cricket tours to other countries while the cash-rich Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament has been indefinitely suspended.
With several bilateral series being wiped out, the new World Test Championship (WTC) is in doubt with its final between the top two sides scheduled in June next year at Lord’s.
The nine top-ranked sides are scheduled play three series each at home and away to determine the finalists and Tendulkar feels everyone should get a fair chance.
“I would like to believe that some tours are getting postponed rather than being called off,” said Tendulkar, who will not be celebrating his birthday as a mark of respect for frontline workers involved in the health crisis. “The whole world has come to a standstill, it applies to all cricket playing nations. The whole calendar can be moved forward a little bit without altering too many things.
“I know the timings of the cricket season are different in different continents and that needs a closer look at.”
Australia is scheduled to host the Twenty20 World Cup starting from October but Tendulkar feels it will be impossible to predict the fate of the tournament at this stage.
“It’s not just about Australia, it’s also about making sure that the rest of the teams are also feeling safe enough to travel there,” he said.
Tendulkar, the only cricketer to score 100 centuries across all formats, amassed 34,000-plus international runs in his glittering career and remains the most prolific scorer in both Test and One-day Internationals.
Number of players have recently opened up on mental health issues and Tendulkar, who carried the burden of expectation of a cricket-mad nation for 24 years before retiring in 2013, advises striking the right balance.
“I had a team around me all the time who would absorb most of the pressure so that I could be focussed only on the game and nothing else. That helped me,” he said, adding he still missed the camaraderie of the dressing room after having helped India win the 2011 ICC 50-over World Cup on a balmy April night in Mumbai.
“Every individual has to go through ups and downs. If one is going to get carried away with success and celebrate till the cows come home, that’s not going to work. There has to be a balance between celebration and disappointment.
“The moment you start finding balance, the pressure automatically reduces. There’s multiple things happening around players and with social medial everything gets amplified so keeping that balance is crucial.”
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