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BBL 2023 (1)
Abu Dhabi T10 (3)
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SA v WI (A tour) (1)
Asia Cup [U19] (2)
SA v BAN (W) (1)
ZIM v IRE (1)
Sambit Bal

Sport still matters, perhaps more than we think

In times like these, when we feel besieged and anxious, it can offer some of the respite our minds and hearts need

Sambit Bal
Sambit Bal
We can't watch matches this way for a while now, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy cricket together  •  AFP/Getty Images

We can't watch matches this way for a while now, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy cricket together  •  AFP/Getty Images

With nature serving a sobering reminder of its sway over us, we now find ourselves in a world we have never known, and we must cope with these distressing times without sport, our trusted salve. Sport is trivial in the light of what's at stake, but we shouldn't beat ourselves up for feeling its absence as we try to navigate our way through the sci-fi nightmare we have slipped into.
For sport is more than a pastime or escapism: it is one of the elixirs of life. Apart from the obvious feel-good immersiveness of it, it fills our lives with a variety of beautiful things: hope and anticipation, wonder and imagination, grace and beauty, exhilaration and the sweetest kind of pain.
At the simplest level, sport is the greatest distraction from our day-to-day troubles. At its most profound, it is the most joyful projection of the scale of human ability and ambition. It does arouse our tribal instincts, but the central appeal of sport is universal, and by taking us on an emotional roller-coaster it teaches us that there can be contests without enemies, that defeat isn't equal to failure, and that giving your best matters more in life at large than wins and losses.
Sport is an essential companion in life. We need to make no apologies for missing it when we are all feeling a bit lost.
If nothing, sport teaches us to stay in the game, to never give up, to find another way. So while we feel bereft at ESPNcricinfo with this sudden vacuum, and while we are still coming to grips with our new work-from-home routines, we haven't lost sight of the thing that really matters: that in the best traditions of the game, we must carry on.
Our news-gathering will carry on as usual, and we will keep you updated with every bit of relevant information from around the world, but the absence of live cricket is an opportunity to develop bigger stories, dig deeper into the big issues, use new approaches to storytelling, create more collaborative content, and find newer ways to engage with you and keep you engaged. Cricket and cricketers will remain central, but we will challenge ourselves to find new themes.
Few things outside our personal lives create memories as deep and fond as sport does. And few outlets can match the wealth of ESPNcricinfo's archives, in depth or breadth, and the cumulative experience and knowledge of our global pool of writers. We will dip into these riches to light our collective nostalgia. We will bring alive iconic matches and golden moments, re-examine the past, and reconsider received wisdom. Expect the unexpected because we fully expect to surprise ourselves.
Though isolation is the most palpable theme of our collective current situation, in many ways we have all as humans never been more united, not only in our vulnerability and anxiety but also in our will and determination to combat and overcome this all-pervasive threat. While we stay relentlessly vigilant about our collective safety, this period of imposed isolation is also an opportunity to rediscover the joys of family lunches, board games, idle chatter, and to reconnect with sport in different ways.
We will do our bit. But let's do it together. Send us your memories, tell us which matches you want to read about; dig into our archives and suggest an old piece that others might want to read; participate in polls and discussions; take our quizzes; play some games at home and send us videos of it. Life as we have known it has hit pause, but it must not stand still. More than ever before, we need to draw on the spirit of sport and play on.
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Sambit Bal is editor-in-chief of ESPNcricinfo @sambitbal