IPL Postponed: Can It Resume Later? How Will Players Get Home?

IPL 2021 has been postponed. How will players return home? Can IPL continue later in the year?

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IPL
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IPL 2021 has been postponed and players are being sent back home, confirmed the BCCI is an official statement released at 1:30pm IST on Tuesday. This, after 2 KKR players, 2 members of CSK’s bio-bubble and reports of one player each from Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi capitals testing positive for COVID-19.

‘The Indian Premier League Governing Council and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in an emergency meeting has unanimously decided to postpone IPL 2021 season, with immediate effect,’ said the Indian cricket board in the statement.

‘These are difficult times, especially in India and while we have tried to bring in some positivity and cheer, however, it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times.

The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021,’ the statement further added.

The news of the league’s postponement also comes one week after BCCI Chief Executive Officer Hemang Amin sent an email to all parties involved in the IPL assuring them of their safety inside the bio-bubble.

However, the cases within four teams forced the board’s hand on Tuesday afternoon with the IPL GC and BCCI making the ‘unanimous decision’ to postpone the league.

But, Does ‘Postpone’ Mean it Will Restart Later?

Unlikely. The BCCI’s statement made it clear that the season, as it stands right now, is over and the players will be sent back home which means a resumption in the next few weeks is out of question.

June has India playing New Zealand in the World Test Championship final in England which leaves the window between July and September during which India is scheduled to play Sri Lanka and then England, according to the ICC’s FTP.

The months of October and November have India hosting the men’s ICC T20 World Cup which rules out the question of any other tournament in the country at the time. After that is the home series against New Zealand and then the away tour of South Africa which entirely rules out the possibility of an IPL this year.

There is also the problem of the IPL needing at least a 6 week window if it were to resume. Four weeks of the tournament and then between quarantines and training, two more weeks will be required. So unless BCCI elect to pull out a tour that is part of ICC’s roster to host the IPL, a resumption in 2021 is unlikely.

Important to point out here that the window for IPL 2020 was made available to the BCCI only after September’s Asia Cup was postponed in July 2020. Had the Asian cricket body not taken the call to rescheduled the tournament, the Indian cricket board would be in much a similar situation as now.

What Next For Players?

In a press statement on Monday night, KKR CEO Venky Mysore said both Varun Chakaravarthy and Sandeep Warrier were doing well. “Sandeep, in particular, is doing fine. No temperature, no other symptoms, and he is feeling good. Varun is still a little under the weather, but better than yesterday,” he had said.

While the KKR players will continue their recovery in Delhi, all close contacts of the team members who tested positive will all go into a four day quarantine. This means KKR, CSK, Delhi and Hyderabad’s squads can only move out of their hotels after 5 days and negative COVID tests.

It is now on the BCCI to ensure the safe travel of over 250 odd players and another 200-300 individuals in Delhi and Ahmedabad that were till now helping pull off the IPL every night. The shift to the second leg of the season, from Chennai and Mumbai to Delhi and Ahmedabad, was done through charter flights and it will now be on the board and the franchise owners to ensure the same level of safety is maintained, considering the spread of the virus across India at the current moment.

What About the Aussies and English?

The South African cricket board has already released a statement clearing the way for the return of the players and officials from the country, from the IPL.

"Those travelling back to South Africa will undergo home quarantine in line with the current World Health Organisation recommendations. CSA and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) are in contact with all players and are assured of their safety and comfort in their respective locations," the CSA said.

West Indies and Bangladesh players too are expected to travel back and serve quarantine at home on their return.

England, Australia and New Zealand players may not have as smooth a passage back with Australia and England’s governments suspending all flights from India.

"CA is in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials and commentators back home to Australia," read a joint statement made by Cricket Australia and Australian Cricketers' Association. According to latest reports, the Aussie contingent may move to another country in Asia and stay there for a few days before making their journey back to their home country where they will be forced to serve a 15 day quarantine in a hotel.

England and New Zealand’s players were supposed to return home in a charter flight along with India’s test team for the World Test Championship this June. However, with over a month and a half to go for the tournament, the BCCI may have to arrange for a charter for only the Kiwi and English players.

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