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Voices of caution in roadmap for IPL

Necessary permission from the government for hosting the tournament overseas yet to arrive
The BCCI’s caution stems from the escalating numbers of those affected by Covid-19 in India and its repercussions.

Indranil Majumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 02.08.20, 01:23 AM

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is taking a “very cautious approach” ahead of Sunday’s governing council meeting of the Indian Premier League despite having sent a letter of intent to the Emirates Cricket Board about hosting the tournament in the UAE from September 19.

The BCCI’s caution stems from the escalating numbers of those affected by Covid-19 in India and its repercussions. Moreover, the necessary permission from the government for hosting the tournament overseas is yet to arrive and remains the top-most item on the agenda for Sunday.

The meeting will be chaired by governing council chairman Brijesh Patel, and will be attended by COO and BCCI interim CEO Hemang Amin, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, treasurer Arun Dhumal, among others.

“Yes the IPL is important for the Board’s finances. But you can’t turn a blind eye if the pandemic numbers keep rising. You have to be pragmatic and aware of its social impact... Cricket cannot be more important than human lives,” someone in the know of things told The Telegraph.

“It’s not that the IPL will not happen. It will go ahead as of now. But if by the first week of September there’s a significant rise in the number of cases we might have to reconsider our plans in that context… We will consider these situations during the meeting,” said the source.

The BCCI has been in talks with the UAE about creating bio-secure bubbles though it won’t be possible to have hotels inside the stadium as seen in Southampton and Manchester. Expert advice from the England and Wales Cricket Board is also being sought.

“A maximum of 300 people were involved in the England-West Indies series. In the IPL, eight teams will be involved and it’s going to be around 3,000 people by conservative estimates. If someone tests positive, what’s going to be the impact? How will the others deal with it?

“Such things will be explained in the SOP which has already been prepared. It will be shared with the franchises on Monday. But things are not going to be easy in case someone tests positive,” the source maintained.

In case of a Jofra Archer-type incident, where the fast bowler had breached England’s bio-secure environment, during the IPL, the player will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

The Telegraph lists some of the other issues the governing council is expected to discuss:

  • The Chinese sponsorship issue that involves title sponsors Vivo, among others. Chinese investments have been under the scanner since the border tension and the government’s ban on several apps. The IPL hasn’t discussed it despite a promise via a tweet in early June.
  • As already reported by this newspaper, the final is likely to be held on November 10 — a Tuesday — because the broadcasters wish to cash in on the Diwali week.
  • The franchises aren’t keen on an India camp now as they want the India players to travel together to facilitate team bonding and practice.
  • The cap on squad strength on each franchise will also be part of the agenda. Also, if replacements will be allowed if foreign players aren’t available on time. While there’s no uncertainty over the England and Australia players since the proposed ODI series is expected to end by September 16, the availability of the South African cricketers is a matter of concern because of the lockdown there. Teams like Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore account for six of the 10 South Africans in the IPL.
  • The BCCI is likely to leave it to the franchises to decide on the players’ families accompanying them.
  • Match day protocols, fixtures and timings, assigning bases to the franchises in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah will also be dealt with in detail.
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