Why IPL 2020 Can’t be Postponed?
The BCCI had earlier decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15 April following the COVID-19 outbreak. 
The BCCI had earlier decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15 April following the COVID-19 outbreak. (Photo: BCCI)

Why IPL 2020 Can’t be Postponed?

“We are at the same place where we were 10 days ago." This is what Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) President Sourav Ganguly had to say when he was asked about the status of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League earlier this week.

With the coronavirus cases multiplying in the country at a rapid pace and the 21-day lockdown being declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the pandemic, it looks like the cashrich league might not see the light of day this time around.

The BCCI had earlier decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15 April following the COVID-19 outbreak. On Monday, 26 March, a conference call among BCCI officials was scheduled to discuss the fate of the competition. But it had to be called off eventually since Sourav Ganguly and Co wanted to ‘wait and watch’ before arriving at a decision.

But with international tournaments like the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020 getting postponed by a year, the heat is surely on BCCI to call off the tournament. Meanwhile, rumours are rife that BCCI might try to schedule the tournament at a later half of the year if the situation is under control.

But it surely won’t be a cakewalk for BCCI for a number of reasons.

Cramped up International Calendar

(Photo: AP)

The first barrier for the IPL management would be to find at least a 45-day window to host the competition. With the inception of the new season from June, it would be very difficult for the IPL officials to zero in on an appropriate window.

Reportedly, in case of postponement, the rumours are rife that the IPL might take place this year in between July and September.

This might sound perfect keeping in mind that Virat Kohli and Co have no international duty till September. But if other teams are brought into picture, the scenario changes.
(Photo: AP)

According to ICC’s Future Tour Programme, in June West Indies and England will be busy along with Australia and Bangladesh. Meanwhile, New Zealand will be away in the United Kingdom to play ODI & T20 series against Ireland, Netherland and Scotland.

The month of July will see the South African side embark on a month-long tour to West Indies,after the Windies host New Zealand. July will again see England busy playing Australia, before a full-fledged series against Pakistan that will go on till September.

The Asia Cup is also scheduled to be played in September. Though dates are yet to be finalised, India would be participating in the competition as it is all but certain that tournament will be again held in the UAE after BCCI refused to play in Pakistan.

With most of the teams engaged till mid August, it would be virtually impossible for the international stars to make themselves available for the IPL. And we already know by now that IPL franchises done want a tournament without their foreign recruits.

Clearance for Foreign Players

(Photo: BCCI/AP)

With most of the cricketing countries reeling from a self-imposed lockdown and policy of not allowing foreigners to enter their country, it would interesting whether to see international governments relax the rule once the pandemic has receded.

Earlier this week before the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian Olympic Federation had made an official announcement that they won’t allow their athletes to travel to Japan in July if the Olympics aren’t rescheduled.

Under this scenario, it won’t be a surprise if the Australian Cricket team is also asked to cancel all their international engagements till the third quarter. With the Australian contingent, which have the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, giving the tournament a miss it would really surprising if the IPL stake holders go ahead with the tournament.

In another scenario, the Indian government might continue to impose bans on entry of foreigners to continue with the safety measures to prevent a relapse.

Other T20 Franchisee Tournaments

(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

The Indian Premier League might be the most sought-after league in the world but not at the expense of other T20 leagues in the world.

Like the IPL, most of the cricketing nations have their own T20 leagues. While England has the five-month long Vitality Blast, Australia have the Big Bash League and West Indies also have the Caribbean Premier League.

Meanwhile, South Africa also have their domestic T20 league called the Super Pro 20.

During the early days of IPL, the window of the tournament was decided keeping in mind Australia’s Big Bash and England’s Vitality Blast in consultation with respective boards. While the West Indies cricket board might not be able to stand up to the might of BCCI but the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia won’t allow the IPL to fidget with their slot.

While the Vitality Blast this year was scheduled to run from May till September, the Big Bash usually takes place during the Australian summer of December and January.

If the tournaments clash, many international players might opt for the more charismatic IPL but that would surely ensure bad blood between the Big Three of world cricket, something which BCCI might not be in favour of.

Workload Management

(Photo: PTI)

Team India might have easy start to their season with a limited-over tour to neighbouring Sri Lanka in June but by the time September arrives the team would hardly have any breathing space.

After the Asia Cup in September, England would be coming to India for a three-match ODI series to be followed by a three-match T20I series.

In October, India will travel Down Under for a four-month long tour, which also includes the 2020 Men’s T20 World Cup. Prior to the World Cup, India will play 3 T20Is against Australia. And once the World Cup ends, India will resume the tour with 4 Tests and 3 ODIs.

Once the team comes back, the English team will be waiting for their Indian counterparts for a longish five-match Test series to culminate India’s campaign in the ongoing World Test championship. By the time England leaves it would be time for yet another season of IPL.

So, BCCI has to be judicious with the workload management of players because not only the Indian players have the World Cup on their plate but also two important series against Australia and England, which could end up deciding the inaugural winner of the Test championship.

A Virat Kohli or a Rohit Sharma or Jasprit Bumrah might not get respite from the international calendar. So, it is up to BCCI to decide whether the player’s workload management is the priority or a season of IPL.

Conditions Apply

But all these conditions hold true only if the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control globally and in India by the end of May. Otherwise international cricket continues it slumber. Forget IPL we might be devoid of any cricketing action for a long time.

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