It looks like the Apex Cricket body in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), is mulling going the distance to hold the 13th season of Indian Premier League.
Owing to the Pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Board had postponed IPL till April 15, 2020, as a preventive measure.
Going by the conditions in the country owing to the scenario of fear and uncertainty, the probability of IPL being conducted in the April-May-June window looks bleak.
The novel Coronavirus has been on a rampage across the world with major sporting events, either being called-off or postponed. Earlier, many reports in the media carried inputs that BCCI also has a Plan B leading to curtailed IPL. But Times of India (TOI) has recently reported that there is no Plan B of BCCI at all. It only has Plan A, and it is to look for possibilities to host the full Tournament comprising 60 games.
The Indian Cricket Boards seems to be deciding that if it is unable to host the IPL in India, it may move it to a different venue. The Board also looks to have been hosting the cash-rich Cricket festival at a later date even when all players may not be available. Hence, contrary to many earlier reports, the BCCI is not looking to cancel the IPL in 2020 at all.
IPL in 2009 was moved to South Africa and played over 37 days
The reports in the media also state that BCCI was planning to conduct the IPL during the July-September window if the situation due to COVID-19 does not improve in weeks.
Going by the Future Tours Programme (FTP) for July-September 2020 has little consequences if you exclude the Asia Cup T20 scheduled in UAE in September. Also, Pakistan will be touring England, and even the latter will engage with Ireland at home in the white-ball format.
Hence, if you don’t include Pakistan (does not participate in IPL), and England, other Cricket playing countries do not have a packed window in July-September.
Talking about India, they are to feature in the Asia Cup in September and then tour Sri Lanka to play 3 T20s and 3 ODIs during June/July. The BCCI is keeping a close eye if those matches can be readjusted or not.
According to the latest IPL news south Africa hosted it that featured matches being played over the course of 37 days. If such a window is made available, IPL can partly be played in India and rest overseas. The probability of the entire Tournament being shifted also can’t be ruled out. But that will be governed by how Coronavirus pans out in coming days globally.
The BCCI on last Saturday (14 March 2020) had a meeting with the owners of all 8 franchises at its Mumbai headquarters. It was to discuss COVID-19 outbreak and its consequences on the 13th season of the IPL.
In the meeting, BCCI and its stakeholders were on the same page of being committed to offering a healthy and safe Cricketing experience to players, fans and all involved.
How far the BCCI really want to go for holding the IPL?
BCCI seems like not relenting like other sports and cancel its most lucrative Tournament, the Indian Premier League. It is ready to go far and very far, indeed to chalk out all possibilities of conducting the marquee annual Cricketing event in India.
As discussed, the FTP has little issues during July and September excluding the Asia Cup. If you keep that aside, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is looking to launch ‘The Hundred’ officially beginning this English summer during June and July.
But if you keep Pakistan and England aside, all other Cricket countries like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh do not have a jam-packed window. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan will feature in Asia Cup in September in UAE though.
Barring September’s Asia Cup, the only series that India is committed to featuring before the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia is 3 ODIs and T2Os vs Sri Lanka. The BCCI is looking at all FTPs, and thinking if it can be tweaked.
Hence, the BCCI is formulating every strategy in the book to ensure that it is able to conduct the full-fledged IPL’s 13th season in 2020.
In case if the IPL gets curtailed, and is conducted in a 37 days window, then every week will be lost from a bare minimum 37 days. In that case, 9-11 matches of the Tournament stand to be canceled, and it may even consist of some key clashes.
Based on the factors that you just went through, the tournament’s scheduling is being chalked out to put into practicality – accommodating prevailing satiations in the future.
As you read this, different stakeholders in the IPL are already working on diverse alternatives so that a final action plan could be discussed when the time is right.