‘There is a precedent...’: Sunil Gavaskar cites IND-PAK match example to give IPL solution amid coronavirus threat
When multiple sporting events around the globe have either been cancelled or postponed due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the big question on every Indian sports fans’ mind is will IPL 2020 happen at all? Providing solutions for the same, former India cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and VVS Laxman have put their weight firmly behind hosting the IPL within closed doors, minus the fans. Gavaskar and Laxman’s comments came when IPL is already considering a closed-door edition to avoid a complete cancellation of the 2020 season, slated to begin March 29, after a government directive asked for fans to be kept away from all sports events to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry of Sports’ communication to BCCI makes it clear that the IPL cannot afford to allow spectators into stadiums.
Former India opener Gavaskar cited the example of an India-Pakistan Test match of Asian Test Championship being played in front of empty stands in February 1999 and said there is no harm to host the IPL behind closed doors.
“There is one example of an India-Pakistan match played in front of empty stands in Eden gardens Kolkata after Sachin (Tendulkar) got run out and there was unrest in the crowd. I think the game was stopped on that particular day but the next day it was continued in front of empty stands. So there is a precedent as far Indian cricket is concerned. So clearly if it has to happen then it can happen. Whatever it is the best for everyone that has to be taken into account. And if it’s best for everyone to play in front of empty stands, so be it,” said Gavaskar during the pre-match show in Star Sports ahead of India vs South Africa 1st ODI at Dharamsala, which was washed out without a ball being bowled.
The IPL governing council have invited all the franchises for a meeting on March 14 to decide the fate of the league.
“As long as it is not risky for players, the support staff, broadcasters, camera persons the tournament can go on and playing in front of empty stands is not a problem. You see the way IPL is followed, millions of people watch it on TV whereas the spectators who come to the ground will be around 30-40 thousand, based on the capacity of the ground. Yes, as cricketers you want to play in front of a large crowd but eventually, if it is risky then we are better of playing in empty stands, making sure everyone’s well being is taken care of and the people sitting in their drawing rooms can enjoy the live-action,” said Laxman.
The global outbreak of coronavirus which has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has impacted sporting events across the globe. While many events have been either postponed or canceled, cricket has mainly decided to go ahead with matches behind closed doors. The final two ODIs between India and South Africa in Lucknow and in Eden Gardens will be played in front of empty stands.
Cricket Australia too went the same with the ODI series against New Zealand which started with the first ODI being played in front of empty stands at the SCG.
Speaking about the hygiene maintenance to avoid the spreading if coronavirus, Gavaskar said, the people of India needed to be more careful about their daily routine.
“Probably we didn’t take it that seriously at the beginning. But it multiples, it will start with 2, it suddenly becomes 20, 20 becomes 200 and so on. So we have to be as careful as we can, take all the precautions which we are hearing on our phones now. We as a country can be more hygienic for sure, plenty of room for improvement needed there. Hopefully, this will make our habits better. We tend to spit anywhere, throw stuff around anywhere, we don’t relay care. Hopefully, this will make for a change in Indian habits,” Gavaskar added.
Gavaskar also wore a mask during the show and said, “You take precautions. And I think better safe than sorry.”