India head coach Ravi Shastri has effectively welcomed the suspension of international cricket for the foreseeable future as a preventative measure against the spread of the coronavirus.
Several global sporting events have been cancelled or postponed due to the threat posed by the virus. The Everest Premier League, South Africa's tour of India and New Zealand's limited-overs series in Australia were among the first cricket events suspended.
“This rest cannot be a bad thing because towards the end of the New Zealand tour, you could see some cracks coming up when it came to mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries,” Shastri said on a Sky Sports podcast.
“The amount of cricket we have played over the last 10 months, that was beginning to take its toll. Guys like me, and some other guys from the support staff, we left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England. Since then we have been at home for 10 or 11 days.
“There are certain players who played all three formats, so you can imagine the toll it has taken on them, especially being on the field, adjusting from T20s to Test match cricket and all the travel that goes with that because we travelled quite a lot.
“After England, we went to the West Indies, then played South Africa here in India. We had a season of two and a half months here and then again went off to New Zealand. So it has been tough but a welcome rest for players.”
Start of IPL delayed
The start of this year's Indian Premier League has moved from 29 March to 15 April. Whether the tournament is played at all, though, remains in the balance. Meanwhile, India and Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli is among several international cricketers promoting precautions against the pandemic.
“As players, you have a lot of responsibility. That's why the message is very clear that cricket should be last on everyone's mind now. I think the most important thing is safety and not ensuring just your safety but ensuring safety others as well, by creating a kind of awareness that tells people there is something serious around,” added Shastri.
“Virat has done it, a lot of other players have done it by posting certain messages on social media. So it's imperative but all the players were very, very calm. They knew that it's something very serious and there could be a hold up in cricket for some time.”