This would have been the time of the year when the whole of India would have been glued to their television sets or would have filled the stadiums ready to support their favorite sides in the IPL.
This would have been the time of the year where the knockout stages of the tournament would have been in full swing,with nail biting finishes and nerve wrenching cricketing action. But sadly, the players have not even been able to train as a team, and are forced to stay indoors.
The coronavirus has wrecked havoc across the world, and sport has been no exception. Right from the Olympics, to the UEFA, to the French Open, several sporting events across the world have been drastically hit by the pandemic. In India, where cricket is nothing short of a religion, the spectators have been starved of cricketing action due to this global pandemic.
Now, the BCCI has proposed something that the Indian cricket team has never done before. They have proposed that they are open to fielding two separate teams in two simultaneous series. This has never happened in Indian cricket before, and post the pandemic, this could be a reality for a few days.
“None of us know when sport, especially international cricket will resume. But if we have to safeguard all our stakeholders – from sponsors to spectators – one of the options is to select two different squads and play a Test series and a T20I series simultaneously.”Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official told The Hindu
The Board intends to make most of the period playing two simultaneous series when cricket resumes . Besides, it will also help the broadcasters make up for the loss of revenue due to global lockdown.
Pertinent questions on simultaneous series
But, is this a good idea? What would the spectator watch? How will the ‘key’ players be split between two matches against different sides? Would the overall quality of the game remain the same if the BCCI is considering such a move?
These are some of the burning questions that need to be addressed.
In fact, reputed cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle too weighed in on this issue during ICC’s Cricket inside out show.
He pondered, “Is the public going to turn up to watch a game without Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Jadeja? Are people going to come and watch when these four or five players aren’t playing? So I think we’ve got to look at it from the Box Office point of view as well. Are the television networks going to be happy to have a white-ball game without Rohit, or Virat?
“Is India going to go into a Test match game without either of those, unthinkable? I don’t think so. If there is a genuine traffic jam, a big long jam maybe, you can think of having a T20 game without some of these stars but in general, I think you’d find advertisers, television networks, spectators, all complaining a bit.”
Also, there are other problems that might crop up as well. If India field Virat Kohli for a Test series in some part of the world, and the Indian side is simultaneously playing another T20 series in some other part of the world, what would the T20 side do if the player who replaces a stalwart like Kohli flops in the tour? Will they have a stand in captain specifically for one T20 series when Kohli is in some other part of the world playing some other format?
Also, what would the spectators do?
If two series are going on simultaneously, which format of the game will the spectator watch?
Already, there is a concern that Test cricket is dying a slow death. And, if it comes to the situation that India play a Test and a T20 simultaneously, the viewership for the longest format will reduce further. Even if the scheduling is in such a way that a T20 game starts after a day’s play of Test cricket has ended, wouldn’t it be an overdose of cricket for the average fan?
And, if the BCCI is thinking of balancing out the two squads by splitting the key players across the two formats, wouldn’t that make both the squads ‘average’, with the main players being split? Wouldn’t that, in the larger picture reduce the quality of the match?
These are some of the main concerns that would be in the minds of the average fan, if the BCCI is mulling to play two simultaneous series. The most important stakeholder in the game is the spectator, the average fan whose passion for the game has made the sport a religion in India.
Having two simultaneous series would reduce the overall quality of the game in the long run, and this is something that the spectator would not wish to see.
All in all, playing two simultaneous series does not seem to be the best idea going forward. The ultimate end user, the spectator will suffer the most if such a decision is taken by the BCCI.
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