Proteas fast bowler Dale Steyn has lamented the near complete absence of sport – not just cricket – in South Africa this month.
The bulk of sport in the country, and across the world, has been suspended as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus.
‘It is actually such a pity that everything is being blocked off, because in a country like South Africa, where we have all of our problems from the past – culture, religion, ethnic backgrounds – the one thing that brings everybody together is sport,’ Steyn told ESPNcricinfo.
‘It doesn’t matter what religion you are or what colour your skin is, you can go to a game on a Saturday and you can all be supporting the same cricket team or rugby team and you all get along really well. But now at the moment, you don’t have that.
‘In South Africa we kind of like [are] looking for things that unite people in big, big groups. When you don’t have sport, it’s like, “Oh, what do we fall back on to?” And I think Nelson Mandela was the first person to really say that sport unites people in a way that nothing else does. And if you take sport away, then I don’t know really what we have. We’re going have to work it all out.’
Steyn was with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League when several overseas stars started returning home due to the virus. He had played four matches for Islamabad before leaving Pakistan. The veteran right-armer is scheduled to play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League next month. The start of the IPL was recently postponed from 29 March to 15 April.
‘It happened really quickly. I was in Pakistan, but it was raining. We were under that kind of hotel arrest – advised not to go out and wander the streets, which is totally fine; I don’t want to break protocol and have something happen and be blamed for cricket never being played in Pakistan again because I did something stupid,’ he added.
‘As the week went on, everything just seemed to escalate. In the space of 24 to 48 hours, we went from nobody talking about coronavirus to, suddenly, everyone had a hand sanitiser and it was the biggest thing.’
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