The Covid-19 pandemic has brought an abrupt end to many cricket seasons across a few countries but this is not the first time the game had to be forcefully stopped due to safety issues, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
World War 1: When the first-ever world war broke out in 1917, it had a severe effect on England and their local County Championship, which at the time was already the benchmark for local franchise cricket. The threat of large-scale attacks forced first-class cricket to be suspended with many cricketers joining the British Army. It led to an early conclusion of the domestic season.
World War 2: Similarly, the second instalment of a global war had another big impact on local cricket but this time England’s involvement was huge. The tensions between the country and Germany meant the whole United Kingdom was under great threat. Traditional in their love for the game, England tried their best to continue their Test series with the West Indies on home soil until the islanders were summoned back home for their own safety. The famous Oval Cricket Ground in south London was even used as a prison camp during the war.
Apartheid South Africa: Following the cancellation of England’s 1968 tour to South Africa due to the Basil D’Oliveira incident, tension and pressure were mounting ahead of the return tour on English soil in 1970. Protests started to increase, trying to force England to deny South Africa the opportunity to tour the country for cricket matches. The tour was eventually called off a mere couple of days before the first match was due to start.
2004 Tsunami: When the devastating tsunami hit the coast of Sri Lanka on Boxing Day that year, the country’s cricket team was in New Zealand for an extended tour. The cost damage and disturbing number of deaths from the tsunami meant the rest of their tour was cancelled so players could return home to their families. The famous Galle stadium in Colombo was also severely damaged in the process and would only reopen about three years later.
Pakistan terrorism: The Sri Lankan cricket team was the heart of another worrying and frightening scenario back in 2009 when their team bus was shot at by terrorists in Lahore, while on tour in Pakistan. Fortunately no player or staff member were killed but the tour was brought to an immediate end and the unsafe environment led to a decade-long isolation for Pakistan cricket, which forced the country to play all of their home matches in the UAE. In 2019 Test cricket returned to Pakistan when Sri Lanka historically toured the country again.
New Zealand terrorism: In what was probably one of the most gruelling terrorist attacks ever recorded, the Bangladesh team was on tour in New Zealand when a gunman opened fire in a Christchurch mosque where 51 people were killed. Bangladesh was due to play New Zealand in a Test match the following day at Hagley Park. The team was on its way to the same mosque that Friday morning before a training session when the event occurred. Players and management fled their bus as a result but were eventually taken back to their hotel where their tour was cancelled the same evening.
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