Doubts of hosting the Indian Premier League (IPL) season this year, due to commence March 29 and later moved to April 15, remains a question as the number of COVID-19 cases in India grow. However, calls for a shortened season behind closed doors to save the crippled economy of India grow as players and some franchise agreed in the said idea.
The pressure is on for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as players urge the governing body to have a concrete plan for the cash-rich T20 cricket tournament that will also “kick-start” the country’s economy following the devastation of the global pandemic. At the time of writing, India has over 4,000 confirmed cases of the virus that already killed 118 people.
“Let’s say July-August is the earliest,” said Kevin Pietersen, the former England batsman. “I do truly believe the IPL should happen. I think every single player around the world is desperate to play the IPL,” he told to a sports outlet. Pietersen suggested shortening the eight-team tournament from its usual eight-week duration and playing without the fans.
“There could be a way in which to get some money into the franchises, into the economy by having a situation where you use maybe three venues which are completely closed to fans,” Pietersen added. “I think the fans need to understand they can’t watch a live game at the moment and they might not be able to watch a live game for the foreseeable future.”
Meanwhile, former England captain Michael Vaughan, as a response to Australian journalist and Sportswriter Peter Lalor who came up with a suggestion, calls five-week IPL 2020 in September. Vaughan, in a tweet earlier this week, feels a shortened IPL leading up to the ICC World T20 in October and November could be a feasible solution. ICC World T20 begins in Australia on October 18.
“Here’s a thought. T20 World Cup in Oz abandoned because of obvious difficulties with players flying in. Quarantines etc. BCCI swoops and plays IPL in that Oct-Nov window. CA will let players compete knowing it needs India to tour in summer. What do you think?,” the tweet reads. Vaughan’s suggestion would mean IPL will commence in the September window in the lead up to the World T20.
However, in response to the suggestion, a senior BCCI official told a news outlet that “September is the time when there is monsoon in India. Mumbai will be under water, there could be steady rain in Chennai. It is a decision that can’t be taken that lightly.” The league is a huge revenue earner for the BCCI and is estimated to generate more than $11bn for the Indian economy.
Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar said the league — which involves stars such as England’s Ben Stokes, David Warner and Pat Cummins of Australia, and India captain Virat Kohli — “will kick-start the economy”. Stokes and Cummins have recently called to participate in the IPL. Kolkata Knight Riders-contracted Cummins said “everyone’s still really keen for it to all go ahead”.
“The moment we get clearances from all the authorities that matter, the IPL should happen, only because it will kick-start the economy,” said the cricketer-turned-commentator. “Because when you talk about the IPL it’s not just about the Mumbai Indians, or a Dhoni or a Virat Kohli; there are a lot of people who are making their livelihood through the IPL.”
Recently, Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) Chief Executive Ranjit Barthakur said that they are ready for a shortened version of the and due to the ‘extraordinary times’, the CEO was also read for the T20 tournament to take place without its foreign players. The Royals’ CEO urged the BCCI to come up with a decision, bearing in mind the best interests of the franchises.
“We are open to a shortened tournament with only Indian players, at the end of the day it is the Indian Premier League. These are extraordinary times and the BCCI will do the best it can when things improve,” Barthakur was quoted as saying in an Indian news outlet. “Earlier we could not think of an Indians-only IPL but now there is enough quality to choose from,” he added.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Sourav Ganguly previously said, “Nothing has been decided yet. There is no clarity” following the nationwide lockdown. “Things remain as it was on (March 14), when we decided to postpone the IPL (to April 15). Since then nothing has changed. So, there is no update,” Ganguly added.
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