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As international cricket returned to the greens after a four-month hiatus, other than live spectators the other thing people would find odd would be the fact that bowlers and fielders are no longer spit-polishing the ball, the favourite method of getting leather to shin.
In the event, on July 8, England and the West Indies managed just 82 minutes of play in a rain-hit opening day of the first test that started with players taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
England was 35-1 at stumps having faced only 17.4 overs because of light but intermittent rain at Southampton’s Rose Bowl.
There were no spectators for a match being played in an isolated environment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Rory Burns was 20 not out and Joe Denly was unbeaten on 14, with Dom Sibley the man out bowled by Shannon Gabriel off the 10th delivery of the day.
Just before the first ball was bowled, Windies fielding players knelt in the outfield while their England counterparts did the same around the boundary edge in support a movement that has grown since the killing of George Floyd in the United States in May.
A logo of Black Lives Matter also was on the collar of the test shirts worn by players from both teams. The kneeling gesture has been made before Premier League matches since the resumption of soccer in England last month.
There was a minute’s silence in honour of those who died in the coronavirus pandemic and also West Indies great Everton Weekes, who died last week. Play started after a three-hour delay because of light rain and a wet outfield, and only lasted for three overs before the teams had to go back inside because of another shower.
Ben Stokes, England’s stand-in captain, won the toss and opted to bat under overcast skies. Captain for the first time, Stokes made a big call in leaving out fast bowler Stuart Broad – a long-time regular in the team.
Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and James Anderson will make up England’s pace attack along with Stokes. After the toss was made, Stokes briefly forget about social distancing when he went to shake the hand of Holder. Holder move his hand away and both all-rounders laughed.
Due to travel restrictions, the pool of umpires is effectively limited to those in the UK at the time of the series. This could mean some of the officials are less experienced than usual and, as a result, teams have been given a third review per innings, in anticipation of more incorrect or questionable decisions.
With cricket boards around the globe taking a financial hit due to coronavirus, the ICC has relaxed its rules on advertising on Test kits. For at least the next 12 months, teams will be allowed to charge sponsors for a 32-square-inch piece of advertising real estate on the front of their shirts to recoup some of their losses.

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