Bridgetown, Barbados (CMC) – Former top West Indies cricket administrator Deryck Murray has warned against a forced restart of cricket amidst the current challenges posed by the deadly coronavirus pandemic, and says any premature actions by authorities could lead to a deepening of the crisis.
The former Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president and Cricket West Indies (CWI) director contended that pushing ahead with any series before the environment was absolutely safe to do so could result in a “artificial-type normalcy”, which would not augur well for the game.
Also, Murray dismissed the idea of playing cricket behind closed doors, pointing out that having fans physically present was an integral part of the game’s enjoyment.
“The sooner we can get back to as much of normalcy as we can, the better and obviously you’re looking forward to cricket,” the Trinidadian told Starcom Radio’s Mason and Guest cricket show here.
“But you don’t want it to be an artificial-type normalcy. You want to see cricket played, you want spectators there to enjoy it, not just for a television audience. You want the players to be able to interact as they do whether in joy or disappointment.”
CWI and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are giving consideration to a set of radical proposals in an effort to ensure West Indies’ three-Test tour of England comes off in July.
These proposals will see limited interactions between players because of strict quarantine and isolation protocols but more significantly, the proposals call for matches to be played behind closed doors at “bio-secure” stadia.
“That (social interaction) is all part of the game so we need to get that back but having said that, we also have to guard against opening doors, opening lockdowns and what’s the price you have to pay for that?” queried the former West Indies vice-captain.
“[We can] go back into the depths of pandemic again, more cases, more deaths, more devastation to economies. So if it is that we have to stay away for a little bit longer, it’s a small sacrifice in the wider context of things.
“So while I would like to see the cricketers as usual in early May in England and the rest of the season, so be it if we have to miss one season for the well-being of the Caribbean and the rest of the world.”
The Caribbean has recorded hundreds of COVID-19 cases, forcing CWI to pause its domestic itinerary and international obligations. Currently, there has been a cessation of cricket globally.
New Zealand and South Africa were expected to tour the Caribbean in July and August for Tests and limited overs matches which are considered key to CWI’s finances, but both tours are expected to be called off.
Doubt also surrounds the T20 World Cup in Australia which is scheduled for October 18 to November 15, where West Indies are expected to defend their title.
Globally, the coronavirus has resulted in four million infections and nearly 276,000 deaths.