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Players divided over resuming cricket amid coronavirus pandemic

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LAHORE-Cricketers are divided over resuming the game during the coronavirus pandemic, with some citing the necessity of resumption while others arguing that protecting public health should be the utmost priority.

Speaking to The Nation, former Pakistan captain Salman Butt said that it would be better to hold the Men’s T20 World Cup 2020 with precautions as per schedule in fall, instead of postponing or cancelling it due to the coronavirus situation.

The 16-team event is scheduled to take place in Australia in October and November this year. Last month, the ICC had convened a chief executives’ meeting, wherein all upcoming ICC events were discussed, including the Men’s T20 World Cup 2020. According to a press statement, the ICC had been working closely with the Australian authorities to understand whether it was possible for the global tournament to be held in Australia in these difficult times.

Salman said that the coronavirus situation is under control in Australia and the cases are also decreasing with every passing day. “This virus has a low death rate, so I think holding the event as per schedule would be better option because if it is held with precautions, not only would the fans have something to cheer about but the jobs of low-paid workers would also be saved,” he said. “If they do not hold the event on time, there would be dire financial losses.”

He said that while not many people would be able to travel for the event because of travelling restrictions and quarantine challenges, and the players would not be able to practice accordingly, it is still necessary to hold it to protect people’s livelihood.

When asked whether any team or player could refuse to participate in the event, he said that there are chances that some cricket boards and players may refuse to participate in the event due to health concerns. “In England, players cannot step out of their homes to practice due to the strict lockdown and the situation in India is not much different either, therefore, there are chances that some teams and players may opt out,” he said.

Talking to The Nation, Pakistani cricket commentator and former cricketer Aamir Sohail said that the event should be postponed to a later date when the coronavirus situation subsides. “I think the T20 World Cup 2020 should be postponed to a later date. The teams are not prepared for the big event due to the pandemic,” he said. “I don’t think players can refuse participation because they look forward to ICC events. However, any team or player may take a hard stance.”

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