When was the last time we saw no cricketing action for over a month? Perhaps never. Perhaps you may have to go back to the times before satellite TV penetrated our lives. April and May is when the Indian Premier League (IPL) has dominated fans’ happiness for 12 years.
Now, there is nothing but emptiness and depression. Freelance writers, full-time writers in established media companies, fans, broadcasters and ground staff are all facing difficulties.
Monetarily and emotionally, with the sport all over the world under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, these are unprecedented times in the modern era.
The 2020 edition of the IPL has been postponed indefinitely by BCCI, Australia’s tours to New Zealand and Bangladesh have also been suspended.
England’s County cricket has already been postponed to May 28 but with the coronavirus cases exponentially rising in the United Kingdom, the chances are high that England’s series against West Indies, Pakistan, and Australia at home could be postponed.
If the coronavirus pandemic does not flatten out by either July or August, there are chances that the ICC World T20 scheduled in October and November in Australia could also be postponed.
Unprecedented Times, Unprecedented Steps
The coronavirus lockdown of sports in the entire globe is an unprecedented act. The International Cricket Council (ICC) had a meeting in Dubai in March in which they apparently discussed some contingency steps but nothing concrete came out of it.
Looking at the situation, the ICC must now step up and along with nation boards, ensure that they take some unprecedented steps that can benefit them in the long run.
The ICC and all the other members must bear out the financial implications for the short term so that they can benefit in the long run and also show resolve to reschedule some major events.
Annul Current Test, ODI Cycle And Make 2021-23 Starting Point
The current lockdown of the sport due to the coronavirus is like a force majeure, meaning unforeseeable circumstances preventing a fulfillment of a number of series. With the postponed series creating a massive backlog and scheduling reliant on broadcasting, it makes sense for the ICC to ensure three things.
One – annul the current Test and ODI cycle and make 2021-23 season the starting point. This will give the teams an equal opportunity to stake a claim in the final.
The 2019 ICC World Test Championships has seen several series like England vs Sri Lanka, Australia vs Bangladesh getting postponed and squeezing them in a tight window before June 2021 could pose logistical problems.
Annulling the Test cycle now would give other teams a fair chance and thus would make 2023 a major year when both the World Cup and Test Championship finals take place.
This move gives teams, boards and broadcasters to plan and ensure they recover their revenue. It also avoids the potential scenario of not having fans at the venue.
Two– convince the boards of India (BCCI) and Cricket Australia (CA) to push their ICC events back. With events like Tokyo Olympics and Euro Cup already postponed to next year, it makes sense for cricket to follow suit.
Let the 2020 ICC World T20 be played in 2021 in Australia while the 2021 World T20 in India could be pushed to 2022, a year that has no ICC events. It is better to play cricket in front of packed houses rather than empty stands and lose revenue.
Third– the ICC, along with the BCCI must prepare an economic package to rescue the majority of the member’s boards. With Cricket Australia already feeling the pinch by laying off 80 percent of staff and with boards like Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Bangladesh, and South Africa, along with other vulnerable boards like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan and other associates facing a potential ‘hand-to-mouth’ situation, a big economic stimulus is needed.
BCCI Should Show Some Flexibility
BCCI can play a role in reviving cricket by being flexible in scheduling and also show that their economic clout in cricket is for the right reasons. In an unprecedented period, this is a golden chance for BCCI (India) and the ICC to take the lead and save cricket from the coronavirus pandemic.
But first, cricket fans would be praying the coronavirus pandemic eases off in the next couple of months so that normalcy returns.