The pandemic has changed so many things including sports events. In 2020, we saw the majority of major sports leagues announce the postponement or even cancelation of their scheduled events. It took a few weeks and months for some to be able to come back and when they did, the matches had to take place behind closed doors.
In March of last year, the English Premier League, the NBA, and many other leagues had to make this tough decision and soon later, cricket leagues followed suit. In April, it was announced that the biggest cricket league worldwide was postponed after weeks of hoping that it would still push through as scheduled. The Indian Premier League (IPL) usually takes place between March and April but it was just impossible to stick with this schedule last year because it was a high time for the pandemic.
It took quite a while before the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided on the fate of IPL 2020. It was eventually announced that it would still take place within the year and it was to be in September. However, because there is still a pandemic, there were many changes to be made and strict protocols to be implemented including having to ban crowds and fans from attending the matches.
Up until today, cricket matches take place behind closed doors. Cricket fans can only watch a live stream of the matches and if they want to place their bets, they have to do it online as many land bookies and casinos are still closed until today.
If ever a venue allows people to come in, only a limited number of them could enter. In India, Ahmedabad has already allowed 50 percent capacity in stadiums but this could still change when necessary.
There is no reason to delay sports events this year like the IPL which will start its season on April 9. Fans are already excitedly looking up Eoin Morgan and Kolkata Knight Riders head-to-head stats in IPL and possible odds for this year because the IPL will be back with a full season. However, no audience will still be allowed during the initial matches.
How Bubbles Became an Effective Solution
It took a couple of months for the sports industry to be able to find a solution to their problem. People in the industry simply didn’t want to wait for the pandemic to blow over because everyone knew that it may take a while for that to happen. True enough, until today, we are still dealing with a pandemic.
Sports leagues had to come up with a solution and they resorted to utilizing bio-secure bubbles or just “bubbles” to many. When a league utilizes a bubble, this simply means that everyone involved in its current season will have to stay inside a bubble.
It’s not a bubble. What this simply means is that everyone involved will have a world of their own and no one is allowed to have physical contact with anyone who is not part of the bubble. Now, this works because before entering the bubble, everyone gets tested and only people with negative results will be let in. If everyone sticks to the protocols, then no one would get infected by the virus.
Cricket isn’t exactly the pioneer when it comes to utilizing bio-secure bubbles. It was initially used by football and basketball leagues like the EPL and the NBA. Cricket leagues simply followed suit and it was effective for everybody.
While these bubbles do work, it was simply challenging for everyone involved. It carries a lot of mental challenges. Everyone had to be away from their family and the feeling of isolation came in easy. And so, bubbles may not be effective and efficient in the long run. With that, everyone now has high hopes that things will go back to normal and that stadiums will be once again filled with excited fans.
Will Fans Be Finally Able to Watch Cricket Matches Live This Year?
Well, a quick answer to this is: it depends. It will depend on how things go with the pandemic and the decision of local governments where matches will be held. So far, it’s more apparent that cricket matches will still take place behind closed doors.
It’s just really hard to say when people will be finally allowed to watch all live cricket matches. What’s likely is that there will be some attempts to give it a try this year, but fans still shouldn’t get their hopes up. We may have to wait until a certain percentage of the population is already vaccinated for public gatherings such as sports events will finally go back to normal.