Indian cricket has responded to the Covid-19 crisis as the country goes into a 21 day lockdown.
Sourav Ganguly, president of the BCCI, has said he is prepared to offer the indoor facilities at Eden Park in Kolkata, and the players’ dormitory to the government of West Bengal should they be needed to help quarantine those affected by the virus.
A follows a similar offer by the Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP) who have offered their own dormitory to local coronavirus patients who need to be isolated.
Meanwhile, Indian captain Virat Kohli, and his Bollywood actress wife, Anushka Sharma, have posted a video in which they have urged people to stay indoors, and to follow the instructions of the Indian government. The pair also stressed the seriousness of the current situation, and the need for people to stay united.
Kohli is by no means the only Indian sports personality to ask their followers to obey the rules. Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have all used social media to pass on messages to their followers as to how to avoid the disease.
Meanwhile Ganguly is non-committal about the future of this year’s IPL, despite widespread calls for it to be postponed, or cancelled altogether. Instead, he has given franchise owners the gloomy news that it is unlikely that any losses suffered by them is unlikely to be covered by insurance, given the extraordinary circumstances and the fact that the lockdown has been imposed by the Indian government.
Responding for calls for the BCCI, the world’s richest cricket board, to make some sort of financial donation to help the victims of the epidemic, Ganguly has said that he will discuss the matter with secretary jay Singh to discuss the best way forward.
However, he has personally agreed to donate rice worth Rs. 50 lakh to the poor affected by the shutdown.
Gautam Gambhir, the former India batsman and now a member of parliament, has donated Rs. 1 crore from his MP’s local area development fund, and he has also given one month’s salary. In addition, his foundation is distributing food parcels to poor people in his constituency.
Meanwhile, the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) has given Rs. 50 lakh each to the central government and to the local state government to help with relief efforts, and to help buy emergency equipment and protective gear for health workers. They have also said that they are willing to provide any support that they can to local efforts to combat the virus.
Another to give is Richa Ghosh, the 16 year old who forced her way in to the Indian women’s T20 cricket team at the World Cup earlier this month. She has donated Rs. 1 lakh to the Bengal Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, with her father handing over a cheque on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Ajinkya Rahane, India’s test vice-captain, has given Rs. 50 lakh to Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, whilst two former players, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, and Suresh Raina, have chipped in with Rs 50 and Rs. 52 lakh each.
All this comes as India’s 1.3 billion people have gone into total lockdown for a minimum of 21 days. It coincides with the start of the New Year according to the Hindu calendar, but instead of the streets and markets being thronged with people, towns and city centres are empty as Indians get used to the new reality.