England’s second test in India is likely to be its first game in front of the spectators in more than a year, with new guidelines covering sporting events in India, opening up the possibility that the 50,000-seat MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai is half full. Only a shortage of time to organize ticketing has prevented the doors from opening when the first meeting of the teams begins on Friday.
Although the outcome of the discussions between the Indian Cricket Control Board and the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association has yet to be made public, a TNCA official told the Press Trust of India on Monday that the public would be authorized.
“BCCI and TNCA have decided to allow 50% of spectators for the second test following all security protocols,” said the official. “There is little time to arrange for spectators to enter the first test, so crowds cannot be allowed. Although the gap between the first two tests is only three days, we are confident that arrangements can be made for the fans in the second test. “
TNCA members and journalists can be authorized in the first round, while authorization has already been given for spectators to attend the third and fourth matches, which will be played at the 110,000 capacity Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad. Although they can expect a hostile atmosphere, the development was immediately welcomed by the England players.
“If it’s safe then great, obviously we’d love to play in front of the crowd ASAP,” said Jack Leach. “We definitely want to play in front of the crowd, but obviously we don’t want to exacerbate a problem that is affecting everyone.”
After illness and injury, Leach returned after a 14-month absence from test cricket to contribute a series of wickets in the second inning to England’s series victory in Sri Lanka last month, but has admitted that further improvements will be needed if it is to prosper. in India against the team that he considers “probably on paper the best in the world”.
Having failed to test positive for Covid on Sunday, the team will emerge from quarantine to train on Tuesday for the first time since arriving in India. The six days he spent in his hotel room – “I’ve reflected a bit, thrown some in the mirror” – has been a relatively brief hiatus in what has been a couple of years for Leach, who at the age of 29 years is preparing for his thirteenth test.
“It’s been a long time without playing, and in that time I worked hard to try to become, I guess, the bowler I want to be. I feel like everything is there, I just need to get it out now. I feel like I’m going in the right direction. India is obviously a great team and they have all bases covered. I don’t want to have too many assumptions, but I know if I can get it right and in the right headspace and bowling, then I can be effective. “
Leach’s confidence has been bolstered by his impact in Sri Lanka, even if he was not completely satisfied with his performances there. “I am someone who is never happy, and I think there will be more improvements to come. I feel like the way the ball came out wasn’t exactly how I would like it to be, but I have to accept that I haven’t had much cricket as of late. The guys played great cricket, it was nice to be a part of that and make a contribution, but I feel like I have more to offer.
Pitching in India may help you, even if the quality of the hitters you will face is overwhelming. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity for all of us to test ourselves against what on paper is probably the best side of the world,” Leach said. “Doing it here – it’s my first time in India – this is the dream. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and after missing cricket, you have to remember to enjoy and appreciate these moments. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism