Playing in ‘bubble’ likeliest option for local cricketers  
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This year’s Jaguars Franchise League tournament should be played inside a ‘bubble’ once the pandemic persists.
This year’s Jaguars Franchise League tournament should be played inside a ‘bubble’ once the pandemic persists.

– 2020 Jaguars Franchise League perfect chance to test theory

By Clifton Ross

THE emergence of the ‘bubble’ has proved to be a very unique way of ensuring that live action is played amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – virtually minimising any chances of those inside contracting the virus once the protocols are followed.

The first successful experiment of the invisible bubble was hosted by the National Basketball Association (NBA), which is currently in its final stages and has yet to have any known positive case or remotely anything close to an outbreak, since restarting in July.

Cricket then adapted the idea, hosting the first-ever bio-secure series in England as the home team entertained the West Indies and Pakistan.

Both series were very successful, as players and staff adhered to the necessary protocols, thus ensuring that the series ended without any hiccups, that is; COVID-19-wise.

The next successful attempt was done by the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) organisers, who were tasked with removing the tournament’s party-like identity and replacing it with a flair-less more somber-like state, with no fans or regional touring for their 2020 edition.

Despite their first attempt, Hero CPL organisers managed to keep their poise while the players were utterly responsible during the time spent inside the Trinidad & Tobago bubble. The collective exhibition of accountability demonstrated by those inside capped off a historical edition, depicted by competiveness and maturity shown by those within the bubble’s confines.

Now, franchise T20 cricket’s marquee event, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is currently being hosted in the UAE, with players again having to adapt and learn from the previous tourney’s held in a bubble-like setting.

So far things have been running smoothly and should those inside continue to follow the blueprint for staying safe; it is likely that all cricket could possibly be played in a similar scenario even if the pandemic persists.

The local cricket system has been enduring time-off due to COVID-19, going back to earlier in the year when the virus forced the stoppage of the 2019-2020 Regional 4-Day tournament. Fast-forward to more than 6 months later and action has yet to even peak anywhere in the country.

As a result of the pandemic’s continued spread, facilities and venues remained closed until further notice, making life for the local batch of cricketers extremely difficult both mentally and financially.

Recently Cricket West Indies (CWI) VP Kishore Shallow, on a weekly cricket show, said that the 2020-21 Regional season was in a slight limbo as he projected December as the next possible timeframe for any action to return.

With that being said, the local system could possibly lean towards creating a bubble of their own as they prepare to get players reintegrated into live cricket slowly. Such a move is possible as Cricket Guyana Inc. (CGI) could easily transform a few of the local venues into restricted bio-secure venues.

CGI will be unveiling its new mini-stadium complex at LBI. The venue has been under rehabilitation and is expected to open its doors to the national team Guyana Jaguars and their Academy as their new home of training, practice and most importantly a newer alternative with floodlights to go along with the Providence facility.

If CGI could somehow use its new facility as a bubble, then it is likely that at least the Jaguars Franchise League 50 Overs and 3-Day tourneys could be hosted before 2020 is out.

Also, with the local batch of players – some already being familiar with playing in a bubble – the chances of all players quickly adapting and following safety rules could eventually end up being widespread.

Such a ripple effect could affect a cricket-vibrant county like Berbice – with a number of venues scattered across the various villages – whose organisers could transform into secure havens for live action.

In all, the only surefire chance of live cricket returning in a hurry is by playing or even attempting to practise as a team inside the confined setting, once the green light is given by the government’s COVID-19 Task Force.

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