Delta woes for distressed Brits: A full lifting of the lockdown in Britain has been delayed as expected by up to four weeks from its due date of June 21. This is due to the persistent spread of the Delta variant of Covid, now duly being described as such, and further only as a variant first identified in India. But that appears not to have erased the blame game. It’s still being seen widely as the ‘Indian variant’ that has delayed the long-awaited Freedom Day as many of the tabloid newspapers have been calling it, and counting down to it, with a show of much excitement. Sharing the blame along with Indians and India is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for not red-listing India sooner, and so letting in people who turned out to be ‘enemies of British freedom’.
Moolah Rouge: India and New Zealand are of course playing for the world Test championship in Southampton, but they are playing also for a fair bit of money, it has been announced. The winners will take home the ICC Test Championship Mace and 1.6 million dollars. The losers, or the team finishing second, to put it politely, will take half that. If the match ends in a draw, the teams will split the prize money equally. All this will of course be just a fraction of what star performers stand to make through sponsorships and ad deals.
Test championship tickets up for grabs: The postponement of the lifting of the lockdown in Britain beyond June 21 has set off a good deal of churning over ticket sales for the WTC match. As matters stood, the first three days of the Test would require some social distancing in outdoor space but with full freedom over the last two days. Tickets for the match were snapped up fast in the face of the exception made for the match as an outdoor sporting event. But given the steadily rising number of cases of the Delta variant, considered twice as transmissible if not twice as dangerous as the earlier strain, some fans are offering their tickets, still going at a good deal more than the face value. More churning could follow if the number of cases were to rise significantly over the rest of the week up until Friday.
Bettors take best shot: The bets are as usual on, over who will win the WTC. The ICC offers its own guess: 39 per cent chance for India to win, 38 per cent for New Zealand, with a 23 per cent chance of a draw. These estimates keep changing. Others are making their own calculations, and nobody is forgetting that it is New Zealand who halted India in the ODI World Cup, and then tied dramatically with England in the final at Lords, to lose out controversially over fewer boundaries than England. Nor can anyone forget New Zealand’s current success in beating England in their two-Test series. New Zealand are looking well-oiled, and after those two near back-to-back Tests, very Test-ready.
Possible dampener: Those betting on a draw may well be backing a safe bet given the weather prediction. As of now, some rain has been forecast on all five days of the Test match. There is a provision to continue into the sixth day on June 23 if necessary to make up for time lost to rain. The weather being at least as unpredictable as the game itself, fans will be keeping an eye above the field as much as on the field, a not uncommon split in the field of vision for cricket lovers.