ENG vs SL: The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has received a major boost with the UK government easing restrictions in sports arenas from June 21. That means, after a year of gap, the crowd will return to England cricket stadiums that were banned due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It will ease the pressure on ECB which has seen a major dip in revenue due to the pandemic. While the first series with a potential full stadium will be the T20I series against Sri Lanka, Virat Kohli’s Team India will also have to face the crowd test in England when they face the Three Lions in the 5-match Test series from August 4. Premier League will also test the return of the crowd in the last two matches of the league.
On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that COVID-19 restrictions will be eased across the country with Step 4 in June includes fully reopening venues to the crowd. However, there is a catch. While the plans have been laid out for crowd return, it will only come to fruition if the UK does not detect the more infectious B1617 novel Coronavirus variant that first emerged in India.
ENG vs SL: While the ECB would have liked the restrictions to be eased before the Test series against New Zealand, they will have to wait for the Sri Lanka limited-overs series from June 23 for that to happen. It will be a major boost for the ECB which has predicted a loss of 100 million pounds in the last one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ENG vs SL: However, the first two matches of the Sri Lanka series will be played in Cardiff with the Wales government yet to announce a similar easing of restrictions. If the Wales government does not go ahead with England’s plans, it could see the first two matches of the series being held with a maximum crowd of 4,000.
Nonetheless, the plans will be a major boost for the 18 counties in English cricket, helping them host the T20 Blast in front of packed crowds.
No crowd for ICC WTC Final: The announcement, however, will not impact the ICC World Test Championship Final to be played from June 18 between India and New Zealand in Southampton. The first of its kind match will still be played behind closed doors.
The Hundred: Another major beneficiary will be ECB’s pet project The Hundred. The first edition of the 100-ball tournament was supposed to be held behind closed doors. But now with the government’s announcement, ECB can now breathe a sigh of relief and have it in front of packed stadiums.