Coronavirus has penetrated into the bio-secure bubble meant to guard all associated with PSL-6 from the lethal infection. The ongoing edition of the cricket league thus stands suspended sine die — in a huge disappointment for the players and officials as well as cricket fans across the country and outside. It started off from Australian legs-spinner Fawad Ahmed contracting the virus, leading to the March 1 match between Islamabad United and Quetta Gladiators first getting delayed by two hours and then rescheduled for the following day. Two more overseas players and a support staff then tested positive for the microbe; and as these lines are being written a total of seven individuals connected with PSL-6 are down with the deadly affection that has taken more than 13 thousand lives in the country besides affecting more than 5,85,000 people.
The Covid-19 penetration into the bio-secure bubble — an environment cut off from the outside world and where all those engaged in the tournament are limited to a few places — raises questions whether its conditions were not followed in letter and spirit. We remember how Pakistan players were made to strictly follow the bio-secure bubble requirements during their last tour of New Zealand. Players were not even allowed outside their rooms during the quarantine period so much so that some players had even complained of mistreatment. However, during the PSL we saw players allowed to enjoy golf during a rest day in the tournament — something that speaks of the non-seriousness and leniency on the part of the cricket board officials.
Besides, allowing spectators into the stadium to fill 20 per cent of the seating capacity is unlikely to have gone without playing a role. It has turned out to be a premature decision. The PSL is not just a cricket festival for Pakistan, it means much more than that for the whole nation. The PCB should have done everything to keep it safe from the coronavirus onslaught. But the genome has played the spoilsport with the greatest cricket gala in the country — yet again. Quite understandably, the cricket board is quiet on when the matches will resume. To conclude, the board has moved swiftly and wisely to postpone the tournament with immediate effect “in consideration for the health and wellbeing of all participants in the tournament”.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2021.
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