Will the IPL happen this year? And where?
Will India tour Australia for the Test series in December?
Why is Trinidad and Tobago a good venue for the Caribbean Premier League in August?
The answer to many of these questions lies in the Covid-19 numbers prevailing in the various cricket-playing nations across the world.
We analyze the spread of the pandemic in the 9 major cricket playing nations of the world – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Australia, England, South Africa and the West Indies.
Note: The West Indies is treated as one nation for the analysis and comprises of 15 countries in the Caribbean
INDIA HAS MAXIMUM CASE-LOAD BUT SOUTH AFRICA HIGHEST INCIDENCE PER MILLION
India has the maximum case-load and fast approaching 1 million Covid-19 cases. It has seen a dramatic rise in the number of cases post the lockdown ended on May 31. From a cumulative 1,90,648 cases on 31 May, the country has recorded a staggering 7,46,914 cases in the last one and half months. Only USA and Brazil have a higher number of cases than India.
However, in terms of Incidence Per Million, it is South Africa which, with 5,027 cases per million of its population, is the worst-affected.
South Africa’s cases started surging alarmingly since July and the country has recorded 10,000-plus cases continuously for the last 6 days with its peak on July 9 (13,674 cases).
While New Zealand has the least number of cases, Sri Lanka’s Incidence is the lowest amongst the 9 nations relative to the size of its population.
New Zealand did not report a single new case from May 20 to June 15 but has since then seen a few single-digit daily infections erupt sporadically.
The 15 nations of the Caribbean that make up the West Indies comprise of only 1,802 cases collectively. Of these, Jamaica accounts for approximately 42% of the total cases – the highest in the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago has only reported a total of 133 cases (7% of the total) and also has the lowest Incidence Per Million of 95 in the Caribbean.
Not surprisingly, it has been chosen as the venue for the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) to be held in August, 2020.
The Positivity Rate is another measure to gauge the spread of the virus and the analyses throw up some interesting numbers.
BANGLADESH HAS HIGHEST POSITIVITY RATE, AUSTRALIA LOWEST
Bangladesh has the highest Positivity Rate amongst the 9 major cricket playing nations. At 19.67%, it means that one in every five people tested in the country is Covid-19 positive – a very high number. This suggests that testing has been low and inadequate. Not surprising then that it has tested just 5,866 per million – the lowest amongst the 9 nations.
South Africa is a curious case. Although it has credible testing numbers (37,633 tests per million), it still reports a high Positivity Rate of 13.36%. This seems to be due to the approach of ‘focussed testing’ adopted by certain South African hotspots, where they are mostly testing people above the age of 55.
India and England are in the same cluster though the latter’s numbers are updated only till 1st July (marked with a *).
Australia and New Zealand have done a great job with their testing – the Trans-Tasman neighbours have conducted 1,25,977 and 86,628 tests per million population and not surprisingly have very low Positivity Rates of 0.33% and 0.36% respectively.
In particular, New Zealand’s model of containment has been hailed all over the world – the country issued an early lockdown, tested extensively, and followed that with effective contact-tracing policy.
Australia had done a remarkable job of controlling the infections for two months between April 15 to June 15 but there has been a recent surge in New South Wales and Victoria.
How effectively the country manages to control this second wave will go a long way in determining if India’s high profile Test tour goes ahead in December.
ENGLAND MORTALITY RATE 7 TIMES WORSE THAN OTHERS
The real test for any nation during any pandemic is the number of lives it can save.
England witnessed a dramatic surge in the number of Covid-19 fatalities in April. It recorded 1000-plus deaths on as many as 9 days in the month. But since the peak on the 21st of April (1,172 deaths), the number has reduced significantly and the country is now reporting, on an average, less than 100 deaths daily.
Overall though, its Mortality Rate of 16.13% is the second-worst in the world only after France. It is almost seven and a half times worse than the Average Mortality Rate of 2.15% of the other 8 cricket nations, who have all done a commendable job in containing the number of fatalities.
Sri Lanka and New Zealand need a special mention for their efforts – they have reported just 11 and 22 Covid-19 deaths respectively.
Australia has also done an excellent job in controlling mortality reporting just 111 deaths and a very low Mortality Rate of just 1.06%.
Given its size, population, poverty, and diversity, India, despite the surge in cases, has done a brilliant job in preventing the loss of lives due to Covid-19.
Overall, analysing all the parameters, it is Sri Lanka which fares the most favourably in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic amongst the 9 nations. Decisive planning and preparations and an effective lockdown, early diagnosis, and meticulous contact-tracing were some of the steps that aided the island nation to control the pandemic. It also helped that the country has just one international airport.
Given its proximity to India and the fact that Colombo has three international cricket stadiums, it may not be a bad idea for the IPL to be hosted by Sri Lanka’s capital city.
But nothing is constant with Covid, and cricket will have to wait and watch.