Pat Cummins preparing for IPL in empty stadiums
Australian pace bowler Pat Cummins is “super hopeful” that the Indian Premier League (IPL) will go ahead this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, even if it means matches are initially played in empty stadiums.
The start of the Twenty20 tournament, originally scheduled for March 29, has been deferred to April 15 and another postponement looks inevitable as India locks down to prevent the spread of the virus.
Cummins has good reason to want the IPL to get underway having attracted a bid of $2.18 million from the Kolkata Knight Riders in the competition’s annual auction, a record for a non-Indian player.
The ICC test player of the year, however, says getting the league underway would also be an important illustration of the world returning to normal after the pandemic.
“The first priority is safety but the second one is getting back to normality, finding that balance,” the 26-year-old, named one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year on Wednesday, told the BBC.
“If that unfortunately means no crowds for a while, then that is that, but hopefully people can watch at home on TV.”
Cummins said playing the IPL behind closed doors would have a “totally different feel about it”.
“When people ask about the difference between playing cricket in India the first thing is the crowd,” he added.
“They scream every single ball whether it’s a six or a wicket - it’s the same noise every ball - so that atmosphere is something that we love about playing in India.
“It will be missed in the short term if it can’t happen, but I have no doubt it will be a great event even if it has to be played without crowds.”
Cummins, who last bowled a ball in anger almost a month ago, faces a long wait for his next taste of international action after Australia’s June test tour of Bangladesh was postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.