The price of freedom: The long-awaited Freedom Day in Britain is not off to an auspicious start. The official end to the lockdown began with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak self-isolating after coming in contact with Covid-positive Health Secretary Sajid Javid. They proposed an immediate change of rules to exempt themselves but wisely stopped short. They now join about 25 percent of the UK workforce off work for having come into contact with someone Covid-positive.
An unhappy unlock: Most British people are worrying rather than celebrating. A survey indicates that 55 per cent people oppose the lifting of the lockdown, and only 31 per cent support it. The number of cases is going through the roof. A leading scientist advising the government says Britain could be seeing 200,000 cases a day next month. A small percentage of them will end up getting hospitalised and some among them will die. Given that level of rise, a small percentage is still a significant number. Boris Johnson has advised caution, but his decision pens the way for the opposite.
Boatload of trouble: Meanwhile Covid is being brought slowly under control on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leading a fleet sailing leading a fleet that has just sailed into the Indian Ocean. A Covid outbreak has been reported also on several accompanying ships. The mission includes docking in India and exchanges and exercises with the Indian Navy. The outbreak is likely to play itself out by the time the fleet reaches. In any case, ships always keep a safe social distance from one another.
Mixing it up: So now at last the Indian cricket team can experiment with a real change in a real match. Mayank Agarwal will open against the County Select XI in a three-day match beginning Tuesday. Rishabh Pant is still in isolation, so KL Rahul will step in, though he is unlikely to replace Pant in a hurry in the Test series beginning August 4. The match to be played in Durham has been given first-class status.
Pictures tell a story: The BCCI has posted pictures clearly intended to be reassuring, of the Indian team preparing and practising ahead of the match against the County Select team. The Indian players have had little to do since losing the Ultimate Test to New Zealand. They were all given 20 days off to holiday with their families while England have been playing match after match. The county match itself was a late addition. The BCCI has clearly been stung by criticism of a very oddly planned summer schedule. Everyone’s hoping the Indian team will now be fit and in shape for the Test series.