With cricket under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic, there were serious questions around the Indian Premier League (IPL).
While speculations surged on whether our cricket bosses would be able to squeeze in a window for the premier domestic tournament, a lifeline was handed to it by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after it postponed the T20 World Cup in Australia till further notice.
The Broad of Cricket Council of India (BCCI), which had been urging the world cricket body to decide on whether to hold the T20 World Cup this year, lost little time to announce that the tournament is being shifted to the UAE and will be held from September 19 to November 8.
Though initially saying that they would consider shifting the tournament only as a last resort, the BCCI bosses said it was moved to the UAE primarily due to logistical reasons and the evolving COVID situation back home.
While the dates are out, there are several issues around the tournament that are yet to be sorted.
These issues are likely to be raised and discussed at the IPL Governing Council meeting scheduled for Sunday August 2. All franchises are looking at the outcome of the meeting before they wrap up last-minute preparations for the event.
The franchises are believed to have told news agency IANS that there are four issues that they need more clarity on – a word of assurance that the tournament and its schedule have been ratified, the health protocols that are to be put in place to make the event corona-safe, confirmation on whether overseas players are available and the plan on arranging logistics for families to travel.
Some franchises are said to be waiting on a final word on the tournament before obtaining visas and making other travel plans. There have been unconfirmed reports that the tournament might be extended.
“Everyone is awaiting clearances from the Home ministry as well as the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) for the tournament to be shifted to the UAE,” a senior official, privy to the goings-on, was quoted as telling news agency PTI.
As for the health regulations or the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the tournament, it is a necessary adjunct to the event in these times as the world is not out of the COVID shadow yet.
A word on the availability of foreign players is critical to the franchises, as most teams bank heavily on their overseas pool which includes some of the top names in international cricket.
As for family travel, the franchises are keen on a word on whether the players’ immediate kin are safe to accompany them or join later.
Sponsorship likely to be discussed
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jaydev Shah are also likely to be present at the meeting to be chaired by Brijesh Patel, the Chairman of the IPL Governing Council.
Another issue that is likely to hog the agenda at the Governing Council meet is whether Chinese mobile phone manufacturing giant Vivo should be allowed to continue its title sponsorship. The IPL title sponsorship was awarded for ₹440 crore.
In the light of the recent border clash between Indian and Chinese troops at Galwan Valley in Arunachal, which left many soldiers dead on both sides, there was a chorus for boycott of Chinese goods. Even the Indian Railways cancelled a contract with a Chinese firm. Hence, there’s a sense that the government might not take kindly to the organisers persisting with Vivo as the title sponsor.
The meeting will also debate on whether Governing Council members can travel to the Emirates during the tournament.
However, while critical to the franchises and other stakeholders, these are issues that matter little to viewers. All that they want is for their favourite cricket stars to turn out for their respective franchises and entertain.