Hyderabad: One of the decisions taken in the Friday’s Apex Council meeting of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) was to conduct the already delayed league matches despite the Covid-19 threat hanging like a Damocles sword. All the while president Mohammed Azharuddin has been opposing the idea of conducting any matches of this year because of the pandemic.
“We have to take care of the players and can’t put them at a risk. It is unfortunate but then we are all helpless,’’ Azharuddin had said of the risk of conducting matches this season.
With other Apex Council members putting up the case strongly of conducting league matches in the preparation of a possible Ranji and under-19 matches from January, Azharuddin agreed to the idea but with a rider. Initially, it was decided to hold a few matches but it was agreed for all the leagues (three-day, two-day and one-day) to be played this season in a phased manner.
Speaking about this decision, Azharuddin said he clearly told all the players should give a written signed document that they are playing at their own risk. “Each player, who desires to play, has to give a signed document not the club secretary. We are still not out of the Covid threat. The recent incident where 250-odd schools tested positive in Andhra Pradesh is a grim reminder,’’ he said.
Secretary R Vijayanand, however, assured that all medical precautions like sanitising, testing of the players etc will be done before all matches.
The intention may be good but the problem is whether it is possible to implement it. On a given day, roughly at least 50 to 60 matches are held, particularly on Sundays for one-day leagues. The question is whether it is logistically possible to conduct Covid-19 tests in these many venues and does the association have the necessary budget for this purpose?
Bio-bubble environment is not possible for league matches. If by bad luck now that Covid-19 is still a threat, God forbid if one player tests positive, say at Parade grounds where eight to nine matches are held, then will all the matches be cancelled and will it not be a risk to other players. The HCA should give a serious thought before going ahead with this highly-risky adventure.
The HCA officials may have got excited when a few other State associations have successfully conducted their matches. But for instance, Andhra Cricket Association is holding the T20 tournament in a bio-secure environment in Anantapur where the players are housed in one place like the IPL teams or in any bilateral series.
Under the circumstances the best way is out that the HCA should experiment with three-day leagues before announcing the other leagues.
One club secretary questioned the Apex Council’s decision. “Is it necessary to hold the league matches this season given the health risk involved? Was it to satisfy a few club secretaries for obvious reasons?,’’ he asked.
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