Sport Justin Langer vows to ‘never, ever’ take cricket for granted again amid coronavirus shutdown

Justin Langer vows to ‘never, ever’ take cricket for granted again amid coronavirus shutdown

Justin Langer would be keen for games to be played in empty stadiums going forward. Photo: AAP
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If the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent global shutdown of sport has taught Australian cricket coach Justin Langer one thing, it’s to never take the game for granted again.

Speaking to the BBC, Langer said playing games in stadiums without fans was an option, saying it could help get the game going again once the worst of the pandemic had passed.

He suggested resuming cricket would boost the morale of the millions of fans around the world who were confined to their homes.

“The Australian cricket team are so fortunate to play in front of big crowds every time we play,” he added.

“But for the love of the game, and for still being able to entertain people through TV sets or radio, then there’s value in that.

“Yes it’s different, but we’ll never, ever, ever take for granted how lucky we are, ever again. We are so lucky in what we do.”

Langer said teams would be keen to play in empty stadiums upon resumption if the alternative was a longer furlough.

“When you started off playing underage cricket, there’s no crowds there,” he said.

“Maybe your mum and dad came and watched, or your brother and sister were bored and playing on the swings somewhere else.

“You played it because you loved playing the game; you loved playing with your mates and you loved playing the game.”

The Australian team had the experience of playing behind closed doors in the opening match of their most recent ODI series against New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 13.

The final two matches in Sydney and Hobart were scratched as measures to control the spread of the coronavirus took hold, while a return series in New Zealand was also cancelled.

The most obvious benefit of getting games under way again would be providing broadcasters with content and consequently easing the financial strain on the game.

David Warner drives in an empty SCG against New Zealand in March before the one-day series was cancelled. Photo: AAP

Cricket Australia has delayed the announcement of its contract list for the next year and Test skipper Tim Paine has said the players are braced for pay cuts.

Paine said it would not take “Einstein” to figure out that Australia’s next scheduled action, a Test series against Bangladesh in June, would not take place.

After that, Australia are scheduled to tour England for a series of limited overs matches in July.

Eoin Morgan, England’s skipper in the shorter formats, has already suggested those matches could be played without spectators.