Salvaging IPL, T20 World Cup on BCCI's special meeting agenda
- With just over four months to go for the World Cup, it is learnt that the meeting will not yet pass a resolution to move the tournament to the UAE. But all involved in the decision-making have turned rather pragmatic after the IPL season was suspended midway last month.
Quite like in 2020, the BCCI’s primary focus will once again be on salvaging IPL revenue when the governing body’s Special General Meeting will be held virtually on Saturday. With 60 percent of BCCI’s annual revenue generated by the IPL and with half of the 14th season yet to be completed, plans to get the unfinished edition up and running will not just figure prominently but is set to be the main priority when the members reconvene this weekend.
“Discussion on the upcoming cricket season in view of the pandemic situation prevailing in India,” reads the notice for the meeting. Apart from the IPL, the upcoming T20 World Cup (BCCI have the hosting rights this year) will also be a big talking point. The state units, nine of whom have been earmarked as potential host venues, will be appraised of the UAE potentially turning into the contingency venue for the event.
With just over four months to go for the World Cup, it is learnt that the meeting will not yet pass a resolution to move the tournament to the UAE. But all involved in the decision-making have turned rather pragmatic after the IPL season was suspended midway last month.
UAE: home away from home?
The BCCI have already begun designing plans to move the remainder of the IPL to the UAE. “The IPL will be held, and it will be in the UAE,” a leading BCCI official said. “We know the FTP (Future Tours Programme) and the only window we have is after the end of the England Test series (September 14) and before the T20 World Cup (mid-October).”
This means that should the 16-nation World Cup move to the UAE as well, the BCCI would need to work hand-in-hand with the International Cricket Council to ensure smooth preparation. The grounds are usually taken over by the ICC ten days ahead of the start of a World Cup, as warmup matches also need to be staged. And in its current format, a minimum of 18 IPL match days are needed to complete the suspended tournament.
A three-day quarantine period for the players is being mooted, which will then allow the IPL to start earliest on September 19. But a reduction from the 6 quarantine days of IPL 13 will require a nod from the UAE government. With 31 matches (including three playoffs and the IPL final) yet to be completed within a small window of time, most of the league games will then turn into double headers. This directly impacts the return of investment of the broadcaster, who had sold their ad spots at premium rates earlier in the year. Star India was not available to comment.
It also seems likely that many international players will be missing in action if and when the second phase of the IPL begins. Ashley Giles, manager director of men’s cricket for the England Cricket Board, has made it clear that their players won’t be released for the remainder of the tournament. They will instead tour Bangladesh and Pakistan, while some may even be rested for the World Cup. That will surely impact teams such as Rajasthan Royals (Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Liam Livingstone) CSK (Moeen Ali and Sam Curran) and even KKR (Eoin Morgan).
“If the England players are not released, there isn’t much we can do about it. We would lose two important players,” said CSK CEO Kasi Vishwanathan. “But nothing has come to us officially on player availability or IPL dates from the BCCI yet.”
Elsewhere, Pakistan have slotted a white-ball series at home against New Zealand in September and England in October, apart from being in talks to play in Afghanistan as well in October. This too will affect the availability of overseas players for the IPL. To ensure that the West Indians are all available, the BCCI will need the Caribbean Premier League to finish a few days before its scheduled closing date of September 19.
Domestic players compensation
Meanwhile, over 700 domestic players who are not protected by central and IPL contracts in India are awaiting some sort of compensation announcement from the BCCI. For the first time in 87 years, the Ranji Trophy was not held and there remains a real possibility that the upcoming domestic season could also be affected by the pandemic. The board’s office bearers were to “form a working group to compensate players, match officials and others involved in cricketing activity due to cancellation of cricket” but no concrete formula is as yet ready to be tabled in the meeting. “It’s a fairly complex task to find the right compensation package. It would require some more time,” said a BCCI official.
While a domestic cricketer earns R 35,000 per day as Ranji Trophy match fee, that sum drops to half for squad members not featuring in the playing eleven. Then, earnings increase for teams and players that proceed into the knockout stages of the tournament. Keeping all the calculations in mind, a lump sum may well have to be distributed and deliberations are likely to take place in the meeting. To circumvent all the prevailing confusion, handing out domestic contracts has long been on BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s mind. But there has been little movement on that front so far.
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