Ground realities: It was perhaps a cruel indicator of the poor cousinly attention that women’s cricket gets, but the Test being played between the Indian and England teams got going on a used pitch at the Bristol county grounds. A T20 match was played on the pitch last week, and it stands as it was since then for a full four-day Test match. England captain Heather Knight says they tried to get it changed but it was too late. Indian captain Mithali Raj said, “Whatever pitch we get we will try to get a result out of it.” The Test should reveal who it puts at a greater disadvantage.
Not enough buzz: It is a clear reflection of the interest in the game, and it should surprise no one, that tickets for the women’s Test should still be available, and at far cheaper rates than men’s tickets, at 20 pounds for an adult ticket and just five pounds for anyone under 18. Some of the tickets have in fact a lottery built into them, with offers such as a free holiday for two in the Cayman Islands. Given the considerable interest in women’s cricket on the last Indian women tour of England, this comes as somewhat of a surprise. Interest is likely to pick up for the ODIs and the T20 matches to be played between the Indian and England women.
Miss-match: As the England-India women’s Test gets under way in Bristol on Wednesday, happy memories return to the last Test the two teams played in 2014, that India won. But India does not play enough Tests. The England women are luckier than Indian women – they get to play a Test against Australia every two years. Indian women have played just one Test since the 2014 Test against England that they won by six wickets. Since then women’s matches have drawn near-capacity crowds, but that has not been enough yet to fill the calendar with more women’s matches. This year, though, India will go on to play Australia.
Inexplicable Covid surge: It is not clear yet what is driving the higher than average rise in Covid cases in some of the Indian areas of Britain. The red-listing of India for purpose of travel to the UK came into effect on April 23. Since then Indian nationals have not been allowed into Britain, and British nationals and Indians resident in Britain have had to undergo 10-day quarantine at a government-designated hotel on arrival. So this is not being driven by Indians bringing an ‘Indian variant’ with them from India. But it is many areas with a high Indian concentration that are seeing twice to four times as many cases as the national average. The pattern would appear to reinforce earlier findings that members from the minorities appear more prone to catching the virus.
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Delta playing games: Signs are appearing that the Delta variant of Covid doing the rounds in Britain is not quite the Delta variant that had gripped India lethally some weeks back. People with what is still being called the Delta variant are showing symptoms quite different from any seen on a large scale in India. The typical new symptoms are cold and even hay-fever-like, not symptoms that would alert anyone to watch out for Covid until fresh guidelines that have now been offered. But this Delta is manifesting itself a little differently from the Indian Delta. No doubt a scientific explanation will follow. The phenomenon naturally comes before anyone can find a new name for it.