With live international cricket returning on July 8, our writers list what they've missed about it and what they are looking forward to in the coming months.
Sambit Bal: The waiting and the anticipation. Beyond the joust between bat and ball, and the stirring of emotions that sports brings, anticipation is among the great pleasures of cricket, which is essentially a game of waiting. Of waiting between balls, between overs, between sessions, and between days. To fans, every interval brings hope for every single ball, let alone a session, is potentially course-altering. And as we count down the hours to the resumption of cricket, and for us at ESPNcricinfo, life as we have known it for so many years, I can feel the buzz of anticipation building up within, and each moment is heightening the realisation of what I have missed.
Andrew Miller: Mostly I've missed having a frame of reference for my day-to-day existence. It annoys the hell out of my wife that I am always right about times and dates in our family history, even though she's apparently the organised one. But she, of course, doesn't have the 365-day scaffolding of the international cricket calendar to act as an aide memoire. "Of course it's going to be your niece's 17th birthday in August because England won the toss and batted first at Trent Bridge in 2003." That sort of thing. But this year, and probably for every subsequent year, I'm stuffed. The past four months have already melded into a giant blob of nothingness, and though it's nice to have cricket back and all that, I fear the damage done to my one-upmanship is incalculable.
Osman Samiuddin: Apart from the actual overall existence of cricket, specifically I miss DRS and the endless arguing we do over DRS decisions and reviews. I love the whole process - from the waiting for the batsman or the fielding captain to make the signal to the TV umpire talking us through the decision through to the final verdict. And then of course the fact that we'll talk about it for ages and pore over every little aspect of ultra-slow motion and Hawkeye and RTS. And if we're really lucky, we'll have a DRS howler where technology has gone catastrophically wrong.
Jayaditya Gupta: The buzz. Cricket generates a kind of excitement that cuts across all barriers in India, and the IPL has further dismantled those regional barriers. Call it overbearing, call it disproportionate, but when cricket's on there's a definite, tangible mood lift. Plenty of argument and banter; the mildest among us could be roused into defending his favourite player or franchise. It will be good to have some of that energy back, even if we are all arguing from the silos of our respective homes. India aren't playing in the immediate future, but I'm looking forward to seeing West Indies' pace attack, and later on the always entertaining Pakistan team.
Andrew McGlashan: Not knowing what will happen next. Delving through YouTube and other sources of highlights has filled many an hour over the last few months - and few sports do nostalgia better than cricket - but nothing can beat the element of the unknown. For many reasons this will be Test cricket like we've never seen before, but from the moment Ben Stokes and Jason Holder contest a socially distant toss nobody knows how things will unfold.
Sharda Ugra: The anticipation of it, the imagining of it - the first day of a season or a series or an event or even a day's play. Who shows up, stuff and all, and who remains in uninspirational zombie state. The wonders and clangers that lie ahead. The perfect inside out drive or the bold artistry of the six over extra cover, the delicious late nibbling swing collecting its stiletto-slash of snick into the keeper's hands, the legspinner peeling away hooting with delight that his rabbit still can't read the googly, the umpiring decision that causes cushions to be flung at the TV. Nothing may happen or everything may happen, but, thank you God, the wait for the waiting is over.
Shamya Dasgupta: Nothing, and everything. For years, some of us have complained about there being far too much cricket. But the silence, when it came, was deafening. What was I missing? Cricket, just cricket, any cricket. But the scrapping - okay, postponement, but till when? - of the semi-finals and the final of the Pakistan Super League was particularly painful. Pakistan did it. They took the damn thing home. They played it all the way through. Without incident. And then just as it was about to get done… The good thing still is that we can expect more or less regular cricket in Pakistan now. Whenever everyone is ready. We have missed the games in Pakistan for far too long, haven't we?
Firdose Moonda: Cricket in the southern hemisphere has been less affected by the pandemic since it has coincided with the coming of winter. It has seemed almost like the old days, when the game actually stopped between seasons. While that's given us time to reflect on the summer that was - and South Africa's was particularly eventful - what has been lacking is the usual planning for the summer to come. There are very few confirmed fixtures to look forward to, and I've missed the excitement of thinking ahead and debating things like who South Africa's next Test captain will be, when Devon Conway will make his Black Caps debut and if Steven Smith will ever stop scoring runs. No on-field action has also meant more than enough time to get stuck into the administrative maze of malfunction that is Cricket South Africa and to realise that the game in this country is in a far better place on the field than off it. If only we can get back on.
Nagraj Gollapudi: Birdsong filled the sounds of silence in spring as we, the world, were cooped up indoors. Emptiness echoed on the walks along deserted parks, but the fragrance of apple and cherry blossoms kept the mind afresh in April. Spring blossomed into summer. But was it summer? The sound of cricket was missing. Sound of ball thudding into the pads. Sound of a crisp straight drive. Sounds of oohs and aahs as the ball beat the edge. The sense of anticipation. Of watching players from up close during training. Of watching them strain to attain perfection. And the adrelanine rush of filing a copy on deadline. That feeling for sport. That is what I missed. Test cricket starts Wednesday. And the feeling is back.
Tell us what you've most missed about live cricket. Send in your answers to email@example.com.