The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) finds itself in a Catch-22 situation and is now looking at a September-early October window to host the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) before the T20 World Cup gets underway in Australia.
With the three-week countrywide lockdown likely to be extended beyond April 14, the Board’s slim hopes of having a truncated tournament next month has evaporated. At the same time, Board president Sourav Ganguly and his men find themselves under enormous pressure from the players and stakeholders to host the tournament at some point during the year.
According to sources, the Board is likely to come out with an announcement shortly, possibly early next week, that the IPL has been “suspended till further notice” because of the prevailing situation. As of now, the tournament has been put off till April 15.
“The BCCI is unlikely to say that the tournament is cancelled. They are going to keep the option open for it to be played in the latter part of the year. The stakes are too high and they are hoping for things to normalise by then,” said someone in the know of things.
“The broadcasters are willing to telecast matches even if they are held in empty stadiums. A shortened version is also fine but the cash-rich league has to take place. More double-headers can also be slotted. If it happens before the T20 World Cup, it will then serve as a preparatory tournament for the players.”
The Asia Cup is supposed to be played in September though doubts continue to hover over that T20 meet. Pakistan were the hosts this time but following India’s objection it is likely to be staged in the UAE, if at all it is held. A final decision is yet to be taken.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani admitted there was “uncertainty” surrounding the tournament at this point in time.
“There’s uncertainty over the Asia Cup. Nothing has been decided yet. The whole world is in an uncertain state. You don’t know what it will be like in September.
“Don’t get me wrong but it will depend on a number of factors… Mere speculation won’t help. May be the situation will be clearer in a month’s time,” Mani told The Telegraph on Thursday.
The UAE is currently under a two-week lockdown since the beginning of this week. Hosting the tournament there will mean obtaining permission from the government and other agencies. There are a lot of other logistics involved too which will be tough to comply with at short notice.
“There are a lot of ifs and buts involved. Players too may not be willing to go and play there. The world will be a different place and tough measures will be followed. I don’t see the Asia Cup happening there in September,” a Board member of one of the competing nations said.
“The Asia Cup can be held at a later date. Both IPL and Asia Cup have the same broadcasters and they will only be too happy to telecast the former. The availability of overseas players will also not be an issue,” said one of the stakeholders.
England have white ball commitments against Pakistan and Ireland during that period. Such series can always be postponed, if need be, after mutual consultations.
The Australian and South African players have no internationals to play in September.
Everything though hinges on the hope that coronavirus will be contained in the coming months and the situation will improve enough for some kind of normality to be restored.