IPL 2020 is scheduled to be played in UAE this year due to coronavirus. The player’s list has been announced and the venue has also been revealed. A change of country, however, is not the only change we’re going to witness in this year’s IPL. The most drastic of changes would be spectator-less stadiums.
IPL has always been “extra”. With blaring speakers, shouting crowd, dancing cheerleaders, flamethrowers going off every boundary or wicket, the tempo is always high. It has been the younger, flamboyant brother of the test cricket ever since it’s inception. After 12 years, however, that is all going to change. This pandemic has turned the world’s normalcy on its head. A country where people read other person’s WhatsApp messages in metro trains, the coronavirus has taught them the concept of personal space. Now people maintain social distancing and avoid snooping on someone else’s business which is fine for going out on a walk but the stadium is where it impacts the most.
You could enjoy things like these prior to Covid-19, something you can now only see on YouTube. This video was taken on 5th Jan 2020 in Barshapara Stadium. The game was abandoned due to rain but from the likes of it, the crowd seems to have enjoyed it regardless.
Things like these would now be extinct for as long as the pandemic lasts. The IPL 2020 will be played in a Bio-bubble in which players would be not allowed to make any contact from the outside world. The most drastic change would be empty stadiums. While we are used to watching empty stadiums in test matches and sometimes in ODI matches, IPL has never had this sort of experience. Even a small empty block in MA Chidambaram Stadium where Chennai Super Kings played stood out like a sore thumb in IPL.
The ongoing Caribbean Premier League shows us a glimpse of what IPL would look like and the pictures are not pretty. With dummy fans and fake crowd noise, this is what the stadium looks like.
There are dummy pictures of fans cheering and shouting, put in the stands to give a feeling of a packed stadium. Crowd noise is also played on TV along with the stadium footage to recreate the normal settings of the past times. I have followed football and Formula 1 extensively since its resume after the pandemic and I must say I do not like the stadium atmosphere at all. Even the players look like they hate it. There is no alternative, however, which is why dummy fans and fake noises are pumped into the stadium to make it as similar to the normal setting. We need to be happy with whatever we as sports fans can get in these trying times.
IPL 2020 would not be anywhere close to the IPLs of the past in terms of entertainment without the fans. No amount of noise or dummy pictures could challenge the original. These tools, however, are attempts at creating the past normal that seems extraordinary now, something that we took for granted. We should accept the new normal and try to live with it. We might never go back to the way we were but we must also never stop trying!