New Zealand all-rounder Suzie Bates feels cricket will have to take a hard look at its programmes, planning and investments as the world comes to terms with a new normal amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of ICC’s new guidelines, including social distancing and ban on use of saliva, Bates feels may be difficult to enforce. However, the no-saliva rule is of less concern to women than men “since it would affect the red ball more than white ball,” she says.
Back to the nets
The 32-year-old Bates, who resumes indoor nets next week — New Zealand is set to declare coronavirus officially ‘eliminated’ on June 15 — is also “trying to be positive and planning as if the 2021 World Cup will go ahead as scheduled.”
“We are going to have to be smarter with how we invest in both men’s and women’s programmes and consider reducing domestic and international travel,” Bates told The Hindu in an exclusive interaction from Dunedin.
More tournament-style play to reduce travel and scheduling of international series in one city might be the way forward. Most existing sports business models are not sustainable in the changed scenario and reassessment at the grassroot and professional levels were required, she said.
Bates, the World No. 2 and batswoman with most T20I runs ever — man or woman — and part of the New Zealand basketball side at the Beijing Olympics, is also hopeful the quadrennial Games will happen next year.
“I hope, for the sake of athletes and sports in general, that it happens and that all athletes who have qualified can gain the Olympic experience. Even if there are fewer fans in Tokyo, the televised global event is vital for inspiring future Olympians,” she said.
The pandemic has also taught her to be grateful. “I have always appreciated my lifestyle as a professional cricketer, but I will never take for granted the freedom to travel and play cricket around the world again,” said ICC’s two-time women’s ODI Player-of-the-Year.