Adapt, play in empty stadiums and keep cricket in good state: Jimmy Neesham

Wellington: With cricket’s finances taking a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham says they will have to “adapt” to playing before empty stadiums to save the sport from financial ruin.

Cricket boards of England and Australia, which drive the sport’s economy along with India, are fearing they could face a severe financial crisis due to postponement of events leading to slashing of revenues.

Elite-level cricketing action looks unlikely to resume anytime soon and the T20 World Cup, scheduled for October and November, is under a cloud of uncertainty.

“If the situation is that the only way to play cricket is behind closed doors then I think it is something that we have to adapt to as players,” Neesham told ESPNcricinfo.

Both Cricket Australia and England & Wales Cricket Board have felt the strain after the pandemic brought all cricket activities to a grinding halt.

In April, CA had announced retrenchment of 80 per cent of its staff, even as players from both countries braced up for pay cuts.

Considering the extraordinary situation, the 29-year-old Neesahm said, “The reality is that it is a huge financial challenge for a lot of cricket boards to still run without any revenue coming in from games.

“So obviously we want to try and keep the sport in as good a state as it can be in. If that means playing games behind closed doors, the guys just need to suck it up and get it done.”

The New Zealander, however, added nothing can beat playing in front of fans.

“Certainly all things considered you would rather have fans in the ground. It adds a lot to the game and to the spectacle. But you want to adapt to the situation that is given to you,” he said.

The pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, has led to either cancellation or postponement of all sporting events worldwide, including the Tokyo Olympics