PARTAB RAMCHAND | 27 MAY, 2020
No Action On The Ground But Plenty Happening Off It
There is no real action on the cricket field but talk about various aspects of the sport will never cease. These days in particular with so much happening off the field cricket remains the subject of intense discussion with administrators and former cricketers having their say. And the topics under discussion are not mere trifles but important issues which will govern the game in the changed scenario of the post Covid 19 era.
Matters taking centre stage include the IPL and whether the postponed tournament will be conducted this year, the T-20 World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia in October – November and over which there is a dark cloud of uncertainty, which of the two tournaments should gain preference, the tour of Australia by India towards the end of the year and the dos and don'ts guidelines issued by the ICC to be followed once it is safe to resume.
No issue has divided the cricket experts as much as the T-20 World Cup vs IPL debate. The BCCI has made its intentions clear that it would like to hold the IPL anytime this year and is only looking for an avenue. Just about the only window would appear to be the World Cup which is in danger of being put off because of the logistics involved and with time running out due to Covid-19. But any talk that the IPL should get priority over the World Cup has not gone down well with many including Allan Border.The former Australian captain while questioning the decision has described it as ``a money grab’’ arguing that ``if the World Cup cannot go ahead I don’t think the IPL can go ahead. The World Cup should take precedence for sure.’’ He has in fact called for the home boards to stop their players from going to the IPL under these circumstances.
Another former Australian captain Ian Chappell firmly believes that the IPL will take over the slot scheduled for the World Cup. ``The BCCI will win’’ he says adding that at this point the chances of the World Cup going ahead are bleak. ``With 16 teams to worry about I think logistically it would be way too difficult and if the BCCI wants the IPL to take that slot they will probably get their way.’’
This then is the situation at the moment but the matter doesn’t end there. The tussle could also be linked to the Indian tour of Australia. Reports have it that should the World Cup be put off and IPL not be given that window there could be a doubt over whether India would tour Australia. Acknowledging that this could be the case Chappell said that while the BCCI might want to cancel the tour they should refrain from doing so. ``Bully-boy tactics never work long-term, they might work in the short-term but that’s it,’’ he said.
On his part Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts has played it safe by saying that ``there is a nine out of ten chance’’ of Australia hosting India for a Test series.This is scheduled between November and January 2021 and CA is currently under a lot of financial stress and is desperate to have the India series which will fill its coffers with millions of Australian dollars from broadcast rights after the board has had to cut costs due to the pandemic. But Roberts too is less optimistic about Australia’s chances of hosting the World Cup given the logistical challenges of bringing in 15 teams. ``We have no clarity on that one yet’’ he admitted adding ``it is a decision that the ICC has to take.’’
Be that as it may be another former Australian captain Mark Taylor opines that postponement of the World Cup is the most likely scenario as ``15 teams planning to come to Australia, 45 matches spread over seven venues, with national travel is going to be extremely difficult in the world that we are living in.’’ According to him 14 days isolation before that would make it even harder and so more than likely it is not going ahead, which will open the door for the BCCI to say ``let’s have the IPL in India at the time.’’
Taylor is of the view that should the IPL be favoured over the World Cup it would open up serious negotiation opportunities for CA with BCCI for the Test series Down Under. ``CA will obviously want the World Cup but at the same time will be working hard with India that if their players go there for the IPL they will want India to come to Australia for our summer of cricket towards the end of the year.’’ According to Taylor CA will now be thinking about the IPL and not the T-20 World Cup. He is convinced ``they want India in this country’’ to make up for the financial losses they have suffered.
And as if all this is not enough there is the do and don'ts guidelines issued by the ICC once the game resumes. In the wake of the crisis created by Covid-19 all sorts of minute details have been issued so as to minimize the danger of the virus spreading. And while the intentions are noble in practice they could be difficult to enforce and players have already raised legitimate questions on various issues governed by the guidelines seeking clarification on how these rules will be enforced in the post Covid-19 era.
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