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‘We’ll have to get used to it’ – Taylor recalls ‘strange’ experience of playing an empty-arena international

Taylor empty
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Recalling the experience of playing an international match behind closed doors, New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor said that it felt like he was playing a club game in terms of the atmosphere, but quickly pointed out that it made no difference to the level or quality of competition.

New Zealand played Australia in the first ODI of a three-match series at an empty Sydney Cricket Ground on March 13, in what turned out to be the last international fixture before the world went into lockdown due to Covid-19.

Looking back at the experience, Taylor said that the preparations were a little strange because of the uncertainty surrounding the match. However, he was quick to acknowledge that the feeling of playing in an empty stadium, whatever it may be, is something all players will have to embrace quickly, with that increasingly looking like the future of the game until the pandemic is eradicated completely.

“It was quite strange leading into the game,” Taylor was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “There were lots of whispers about the game being cancelled and everything happened very quickly. In the context of the match, turning up the preparation felt a bit strange. To me, it felt like a warm-up game, didn’t feel like a true international match, but I guess once you get into it, it’s no different to if you are playing a competitive game of backyard cricket or a club game, you give it your all.

“But I’m not going to lie, it did feel very strange. At the same time, there could be a few games like that, so I’m sure as players, we’ll have to adjust to that and get used to it.”

Taylor’s teammate, and New Zealand captain, Kane Williamson, too, admitted to feeling strange but went on to note that there is no reason why any of this should take away from the quality of cricket.

“The cricket can definitely be played at a high level,” he said. “The guys were all professional in how they went about their business. It is odd, though, and creating your own atmosphere, I don’t think you can ever quite create what a full house might do when there’s simply no one there and all you hear is the crack off a cricket bat.

“You have to adapt, and that may well be something players will have to get their head around to allow them to be back on the park. When something is taken away from you, you are often more than happy to compromise to get back to some sort of normality and do what you love doing, and that’s play cricket.”

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