T20 Cricket World Cup organisers have come up with a novel solution to social distancing, but the concept hasn’t been without critics.
Australia’s T20 cricket World Cup campaign got off to a shaky start to kick off the tournament proper but the match raised some eyebrows, and not just for the play off the field.
Australia left only two balls remaining to chase down South Africa’s underwhelming 9/118, claiming a less than convincing victory to start the tournament.
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While the tournament started with a play-in group stage for lower ranked teams to play themselves into the Super 12 section of the tournament, the Australia-South Africa game kicked off the main tournament, commentators pointed out spectator pods on the hill at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
The socially distanced pods saw each spectator group get their own section of the hill which was surrounded by white picket fences.
Aussie cricket great Shane Watson praised the concept.
“How good does it look?” he said in commentary. “The families’ caged in, how good would that be with a young family as well? With a little toddler starting to crawl, just to be able to cage them in to really enjoy the cricket out there? Very wise.”
Speaking on Sport Sunday, Socceroos legend Craig Foster called the concept “hysterical”.
But on social media, some people loved the idea, some people labelled the fans “sheep” for sitting in the pods, while other just wanted to make jokes with one fan even labelling it a Squid Game concept.
Minnesota Republican State Representative Jeremy Munson, labelled the organisers “the morons of Abu Dhabi for the Cricket World Cup”.
The UAE has had more than 2000 deaths during the Covid pandemic but have an 86.8 per cent fully vaccinated population, averaging just over 100 new cases per day and one death.
The ICC announced the pods earlier this month in a statement, revealing that the pods would allow the stadiums in the UAE to operate at 70 per cent capacity.
Abu Dhabi Cricket’s CEO Matt Boucher said: “Thanks to the incredible work of The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, Department of Health and Abu Dhabi Sports Council we are now able to safely increase our maximum seat capacity to 70 per cent and introduce new socially-distanced pods of four spectators to our family west and east grass mounds.
“This brings our capacity up to well over 10,000 as we ready ourselves to hear the real roar of cricket’s incredible fans.”
Also in Australia’s Group A “group of death”, England fired a warning shot by bowling the West Indies out for 55, before chasing it down with the loss of four wickets in just