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Will these players make a comeback in 2021?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on all sport and cricket has been no different.

But the impact of the pandemic and the indefinite suspension of top-level cricket could have wider reaching consequences for some of the game’s most established stars.

Whenever cricket returns, there will be big questions to answer regarding future tours, tournaments and series.

And for some older players, it could even cost them a final hurrah and significantly alter any retirement plans.

Here are seven players who will be nervously waiting on cricket’s administrators as they wait to see what cricket’s future looks like.

James Anderson (England)

With seven wickets in England’s test win against South Africa at Cape Town at the start of 2020, James Anderson had his eye on a very significant milestone this summer.

The Lancastrian swing bowler is now just 16 wickets short of 600 in test cricket and only 41 away from the 1,000 mark in all first class cricket.

But cricket’s suspension could prove costly for a man set to turn 38 at the end of July.

Already the highest wicket-taking fast bowler in test cricket history, Anderson looked set to become just the fourth bowler in test history to reach 600. There was even a strong chance he could have reached the milestone on his home ground, Old Trafford, for the second test against Pakistan.

Whatever the English summer looks like, however, if the test schedule is reduced then Anderson’s opportunities to take those final 16 wickets will be vastly reduced.

With injuries already taking their toll – he was only able to bowl four overs in the entire Ashes series last summer – there is no doubt Anderson is in the final throes of his career.

It could be a mad dash to the milestone for one of England’s greatest ever.

Chris Gayle (West Indies)

The Universe Boss has already gone back on one decision to retire, having initially stepped away from ODI cricket after the World Cup only to make himself available again for the West Indies.

While still capable of some explosive innings with the bat, the sort which made him one of modern cricket’s biggest stars, his star is waning.

His firepower at the top of the order is not what it was, and there was plenty of speculation he would find his playing time reduced in this year’s IPL anyway.

Now, if the tournament does not go ahead, one final blast at the world’s biggest T20 franchise tournament could elude him.

Gayle has a contract for next year’s Caribbean Premier League, and that could still be his final farewell, but it would be a shame for the 40-year-old to miss out on one last tour of the franchise circuit.

MS Dhoni (India)

World cup winning captain has been subject of intense scrutiny during the past few months as the player that might unfortunately bid farewell to cricket.

The 38-year-old has already stepped away from cricket to complete a two-week stint with the Territorial Army.

He hasn’t played for India since last world cup, and playing T20 World Cup was largely dependent on his performance in home grown IPL.

Now it is questionable as to whether the T20 World Cup or indeed the IPL will still go ahead, which could alter Dhoni’s retirement plans.

But his already slim hopes of a place in the T20 World Cup squad could be over, regardless of whether that tournament even goes ahead.

Dale Steyn (South Africa)

Fate has already intervened to dampen Dale Steyn’s hopes of a final pre-retirement hurrah.

The 36-year-old paceman missed out on a place at the ICC Cricket World Cup last summer due to injury, and then stepped away from test cricket later that year too.

It leaves South Africa’s leading paceman free to focus on T20 cricket and a place at the T20 World Cup, but that final hurrah might now have to be shelved too.

His injury problems have highlighted the fact Steyn is close to the end of his career already, and the postponement of this year’s World Cup could prove terminal to his international career.

With a wealth of riches when it comes to young rising stars in the fast-bowling department, South Africa need to plan for life after Steyn.

And without this year’s tournament, a tough decision may await the national selectors as they decide whether to bring forward their plans to look to the future.