Starting March, there has been pindrop silence in the Sher-e-Bangla Cricket Stadium in Mirpur. There was no cricket and the players were stuck at home as the coronavirus pandemic situation only got worse.
But finally, Bangladeshi cricketers came to meet the grass after four months on Sunday as fitness training resumed at four stadiums across the country.
Cricket came to a halt in Bangladesh in March after the first round of the Dhaka Premier League (DPL) was completed. Since then, cricketers had to work on their fitness at home and the stadium was converted into a 'No Entry' zone. But finally that wait has come to a close.
A total of eight players trained at Dhaka, Khulna and Sylhet. Among them, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun and Shafiul Islam trained in Dhaka. Nurul Hasan Sohan, Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Mahedi Hasan trained at Khulna with Syed Khaled Ahmed and Nasum Ahmed training in Sylhet. Nayeem Hasan was supposed to train in Chattogram but could not because of rain.
While appearing in Tamim Iqbal's live show on social media, Mushfiq had said that he was feeling like his bats were crying. Mushfiq applied to the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for permission to train at the stadium earlier, but that was not granted. Later on when he was granted permission, he could not practise on the field due to the declining of the Covid-19 situation.
Mushfiq had kept on asking about permission and that might have irritated some of the BCB officials. But as the situation became a little better, Mushfiq had other teammates on his side and so BCB made a roster to ensure the players could train alone.
Mushfiq's scheduled time for practise was from 10 in the morning. But unsurprisingly, Mushfiq was there in Mirpur at 8 am. He ran for half an hour in the academy field, took an hour rest and then did indoor batting from 10 am to 11 am.
Mithun did his batting practise before Mushfiq and completed his hour-long session at 10 am. Then he did half an hour of running.
"Feels good to be back on the field after four months. Batting, running - everything felt a little difficult because we were all indoors for four months. It will take a little time to adjust. But hopefully that will be over in a few days," Mithun said.
Seamer Shafiul Islam arrived at the stadium at 11 am and completed his training for the day by running for 30 minutes. He said he had been running on the stairs of his house but that only caused trouble in his knees.
"I could not run outside because of the pandemic but I had to work on my fitness. So I ran on the stairs at home but that caused trouble to my knees. I could run properly today," Shafiul said.
The cricketers were supervised by BCB's medical team and trainer, Dr Debashish Chowdhury, the chief physician of BCB informed The Business Standard (TBS).
"We are trying to keep the players from coming in contact with others. Thus we have created a roster so that the players train alone during a session. From arriving to leaving, the players will be under the supervision of our medical team and trainer," Dr Debashish told TBS.
He added, "Every player has been briefed individually on what kind of practice they will be doing and what preparations they must take. We have asked them to take a 'ready to train' approach so that they can just come to the ground, train and go back home without changing their clothes. We have also asked them to not bring any food or water, we will be supplying them the water. And thirdly, we have asked them not to use the bathrooms or the dressing rooms unless they have to. As there are only four players, I think we won't face any issues for now. The problem will arise if more players want to train. Then we will have to pick a different strategy."
Dr Debashish also said that there is scope for group training in the near future but it was not his call to make.
Cricket returned after the pandemic in England in bio-secure venues. The series is being played at Southampton and Manchester, in stadiums which have built-in hotels, allowing the players to stay secure at the ground.
In football, Bundesliga was the first to make the return after the pandemic without crowds and soon the other leagues followed. The Uefa Champions League (UCL) was changed to a one-leg affair, with all of them taking place at Lisbon, Portugal in August.
But as the situation is becoming better in some places, fans are hopeful that they might be allowed in the stadiums soon.
They will. When there is no 'new normal'. When it will just be normal.