Indian Premier League 2020 would have seen a new champion or one of the usual suspects would have walked away with the title had the T20 tournament been held as scheduled. IPL missed its April-May window after being postponed until further notice due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
IPL 2020, it seemed, could join the likes of Wimbledon in the list of major events that have fallen prey to the virus.
However, there is a ray of hope for IPL 2020, especially after the latest developments surrounding the T20 World Cup. The 16-team event, scheduled to be held for the first time since 2016 from October 18 to November 15 in Australia, seems unlikely to go ahead as scheduled due to the pandemic.
Even as the Australian government has eased restrictions on public gatherings in its final stage of easing the Covid-19 restrictions, the top brass of Cricket Australia has expressed concerns over hosting the T20 World Cup, given the travel restrictions and the pandemic situation across the globe.
After former Cricket Australia CEO Kevin Roberts said T20 World Cup fate was under ‘very high risk’, chairman Earl Emmings has signalled the cricket body’s intentions, saying the chances of hosting the World Cup as scheduled is ‘unrealistic’.
Nonetheless, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has deferred the final call on T20 World Cup to July in a bid to make the right decision in the ‘only chance’ it has to do so.
What does a T20 World Cup postponement mean to IPL 2020?
Well, the chances of hosting IPL 2020 later this year will brighten if the T20 World Cup is delayed.
IPL 2020: What’s the BCCI top brass saying
BCCI top brass hopeful of hosting IPL in 2020 (Courtesy by BCCI)
Even as India is grappling with the virus crisis, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) top brass is hopeful of hosting the IPL in the September-October window, provided the ICC decides to push the T20 World Cup to a later date.
BCCI president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly wrote a letter to the stakeholders and state associations, promising them that the apex body of Indian cricket is exploring all options to host the IPL later this year.
IPL governing council chairman, Brijesh Patel, speaking to this website, had said the BCCI is certainly looking to host the IPL in September-October. Patel also said India will be the first-choice host nation to host the IPL.
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal, meanwhile, is not impressed with ICC’s handling of the T20 World Cup situation. While the ICC was expected to take a call on the T20 World Cup in May, all agenda items in their board meeting were deferred to July 10. The ICC further deferred the final call on the World Cup to July.
Dhumal, speaking to indiatoday.in, said the ICC can’t keep cricket boards across the globe waiting, especially at a time when they have encountered financial losses and are looking to make it up with bilateral fixtures: in India’s case, the IPL.
Following Earl Eddings’s recent comments, Dhumal said the ICC has nothing much left if the host nation is expressing its inability to host the tournament.
Why the IPL?
BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said the Indian cricket board is not just focussing on money when it’s pushing for IPL 2020, stressing that the T20 tournament is a crucial part of the ‘financial ecosystem’ of Indian cricket.
Much like European football, the IPL has a big following and the tournament will certainly do its bit to help lift the mood of cricket fans in the absence of the T20 World Cup.
What are star players’ thoughts on IPL 2020 amid pandemic?
India stars, including Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, have been in favour of hosting IPL 2020 at some stage in the year. The likes of Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, speaking at Salaam Cricket, insisted that the safety and health of everybody concerned with the IPL should be ensured before the first ball is bowled in the 8-team league.
The BCCI top brass is certainly considering this crucial aspect. Dhumal said the apex board will not organise anything that comes at the cost of health and safety of its players. The BCCI’s stand on organising a training camp for its contracted players is certainly a reflection of the thought process of the richest cricket board.
Not just Indian players, but several foreign stars, including Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, David Warner and Aaron Finch, have expressed their willingness to feature in the IPL.
All eyes will be on England’s Test series against West Indies which is set to mark the return of international cricket from July 8. If the World Cup winners manage to pull it off under a bio-secure bubble, the cricket fraternity will certainly be hopeful of more action in the coming months.
Will the IPL be held in India?
While the BCCI is hoping to keep India as the first-choice host nation, the board is open to exploring other options in case the Covid-19 situation doesn’t improve in the country.
Sri Lanka and the UAE have offered to host the IPL and the chances of hosting the tournament in the island nation are bright.
Why Sri Lanka is a feasible option?
If creating a bio-secure bubble is a pre-requisite in the wake of the pandemic, Sri Lanka is an ideal destination for the IPL. There are as many as 4 international venues in Colombo which will help the franchises to avoid a lot of travel. The exchange rate and the time difference (or the lack of it) are a major boost for the stakeholders and the broadcasters. Moreover, Sri Lanka is not among the worst-hit countries by the pandemic and their recent announcement on easing travel restrictions for tourists from August might make the island the frontrunner if the BCCI is looking for overseas options.