IPL in suspension till further notice
The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL)—which was earlier put on hold due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent national lockdown—is set to remain suspended until further notice. This decision was taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an extension of the national lockdown to May 3.
The BCCI had earlier postponed the thirteenth season of the IPL (originally scheduled to begin on March 29) until April 15—a day after the initial 21-day lockdown period.
But after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday morning, the BCCI was forced to keep the IPL plans on hold for the near future.
An official announcement on the matter is expected from the BCCI on Wednesday. But the big stakeholders—the broadcasters Star Sports and the eight franchises have already been informed of BCCI’s decision at an informal level.
When contacted, a top BCCI official told Hindustan Times that conducting the edition in the summer looks very bleak. “For all practical purposes no sport can be held for now,” said the official. “All the talk about playing IPL behind closed doors, it is also not a possibility. We will continue to assess the situation,” he added.
In the absence of an insurance cover against pandemics, a non-IPL year would mean a loss of around Rs 2500 crore for the BCCI. But when asked about plans of rescheduling the tournament to the winter months, the BCCI official refused to elaborate on their contingency plans and said that the health of the country’s citizens remains top priority.
With the Asia Cup and England’s limited overs leg of India scheduled in September, the T20 World Cup in Australia set for October-November and India’s bilateral tour of Australia slated for December-January, any rescheduling to accommodate a full IPL season would force a major rejig in the existing calendar.
But because the game’s biggest paychecks come from the IPL, many players have already expressed their desire for the tournament to be held in 2020. “They obviously haven’t cancelled it or anything like that yet. It’s still a bit of a holding pattern,” Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins, who bagged a ~15.5 crore contract at the auction, was recently quoted as saying by AFP.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh too expressed hope for the IPL to be staged, be it behind closed doors. “Spectators are important but if the situation arises, I don’t mind playing without them,” he told broadcasters Star Sports. “Yes, as a player I won’t get the vibe, but this will ensure that every fan will get to watch IPL on their TV.”