IPL postponed, franchises told
The BCCI has suspended this year’s IPL till further notice. “After the government extended the lockdown (till May 3), it has been decided that the IPL shall remain suspended till further notice,” a top BCCI official said on Wednesday. IPL COO Hemang Amin shared the news with the franchises after the decision was taken over a conference call on Tuesday involving BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah, treasurer Arun Dhumal, IPL chairman Brijesh Patel and Amin.
When the franchises were last invited at the BCCI headquarters to discuss the fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak on March 14, a number of contingency plans were discussed, be it a closed-door tournament or a truncated event. But with the lockdown extended, all backup plans are now on the backburner.
All stakeholders—BCCI, the franchises and broadcaster Star India—will now be left counting the losses unless they can find an alternate window, most likely between September-November.
Any rescheduling, however, will hinge on a number of factors. Firstly, containment of the virus and resumption of domestic and international travel would be necessary. If the government allows resumption of sporting activity (with or without spectators) the BCCI will then need to use its clout at the International Cricket Council (ICC) and with other member boards to rejig the international calendar so that the IPL is given precedence.
Former cricketer and Sunrisers Hyderabad mentor VVS Laxman has spoken about using the September window for the IPL. “I think some of the boards will be eager. Just before the World Cup, it will set the tone for a hectic season,” Laxman told Star Sports.
But that would result in cancellation of all cricket that is scheduled for September, primarily the Asia Cup. In a podcast, Pakistan Cricket Board chief Ehsan Mani said: “I have read and heard about these speculations (replacing Asia Cup with IPL) but cancelling the Asia Cup is not a decision between Pakistan and India, it involves other countries as well.”
The other fallback option for BCCI is the October-November window which will open up if the T20 World Cup in Australia cannot be held. The Australian government has imposed a six-month travel ban till September 19, raising doubts if the event will go ahead as per schedule. There has been some back-channel talk of postponing the World Cup to 2022, but that would result in ICC and the dependent boards taking a financial hit. There is one connecting commercial link between all the three competitions though—the broadcasters. Star India holds media rights for all three events—the T20 World Cup, the IPL and the Asia Cup. If and when there is resumption of cricket, they could have a big say.