Cricket’s ‘magic’ up in smoke without live audience: Kohli

India's Virat Kohli says playing cricket without fans around is not fun. (Reuters File Photo)
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Updated 09 May 2020

Cricket’s ‘magic’ up in smoke without live audience: Kohli

NEW DELHI: India captain Virat Kohli believes cricket will be robbed of its “magical moments” if games are forced into empty stadiums when the sport emerges from its pandemic lockdown.

“It might happen. I honestly don’t know how everyone’s going to be able to take that, because we are used to playing in front of so many passionate people,” said the star batsman.

“It will be played at a very good intensity, but that feel of the crowd connecting with the players, everyone feeling that tension around the stadium, those emotions are difficult to recreate,” he told the Star Sports television channel.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted all major sports and cricket is suffering without its cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) which should now be reaching its final stages.

“We will play the sport how it’s supposed to be played but those magical moments would be very difficult to come by,” Kohli said.

Some European football leagues are already making plans to restart in empty stadiums.

But the IPL has not announced its intentions and there are now major doubts on whether the Twenty20 World Cup will start in Australia in October.

The International Cricket Council has said it is “exploring all options” for the tournament.

Australia’s wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, who was to play for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, said it would be a “hollow feeling” if games are played in front of empty stands.

“Cricket as we’re used to is going to be different for a bit. There’s the T20 World Cup and the IPL that we’re all looking to play, but it’s hard to picture anything without the fans,” Carey said in an instagram session with Delhi’s official website.

“It’s going to be a hollow feeling, but I feel the fans will at least have some live cricket to look forward to on TV.”

Australia batsman Usman Khawaja, meanwhile, said that playing against India behind closed doors in the much-anticipated test series at the end of the year might end up being an advantage for the home side.

“It’s definitely an advantage” he told Fox Sports News with a laugh on Saturday. “I remember the last time they came over for a one-day series, the roar for India was much bigger.

“Especially in Melbourne, the amount of expats they have over there, they flock in. And when India’s on top they really let you know it.

“It’s a really weird feeling. When you’re in India, you expect to be outnumbered massively but you can be outnumbered in Melbourne, as well as Sydney to some extent also.”

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Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

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Updated 03 August 2020

Red card for virus as Saudi Pro League returns with Riyadh derby

  • Season restarts after 144-day absence with safety measures, spectator bans

JEDDAH: The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom.

The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, ready to take to the pitch for the Riyadh derby on Wednesday night.
The kit rule is one of a string of new measures put in place during every league game to ensure the safe return of the country’s most popular sport, as players and coaches prepare for the SPL after a 144-day absence with a full round of fixtures starting on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fans are unable to attend games due to social distancing rules, while other regulations have been put in place behind the scenes ahead of the season resuming on Tuesday night.
Players would usually arrive at stadiums on team buses, but these will now be reduced to smaller convoys with staggered team arrivals. Players will turn up in their kit ready to take straight to the pitch to warm up ahead of the game in order to avoid large numbers in changing rooms.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Players to arrive ‘match ready’ in warm-up kits.

• Limited number of players allowed in changing rooms at one time.

• Stadiums continuously disinfected.

About 30 precautions are being implemented across match days aside from spectator bans, with all clubs and players agreeing to rules set out by the SPL and Ministry of Sport.
Arrival points at stadiums will be spread out for teams and staff, while a maximum of five players will be allowed in changing rooms at one time.
While a lot of work has gone into the safety preparations behind the scenes, players will also avoid shaking hands or hugging on the pitch. Dugouts will be restricted to nine coaching staff and substitutes, with others seated in the stands while wearing masks.
On match days, stadiums will be disinfected, including changing rooms, corridors, advertising and even corner flags, with the league ensuring safety standards are maintained during the remaining eight rounds of fixtures.
Fans will not be allowed in stadiums but can still get behind their team and show their support through the SPL’s #OurLeagueIsBack digital campaign, which encourages supporters to share messages and join the conversation online.
Take part on Twitter at @SPL, Instagram at SaudiProLeague, Facebook at SaudiProLeague.SPL and by using the hashtag #OurLeagueIsBack.