Hyderabad: The inevitable was waiting to happen. This is certainly a big loss of face for the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) as it was a disaster in the making from the start.
The IPL 2021 was played amid an unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. There was growing clamor to suspend the tournament. The BCCI had to relent and suspend the IPL 2021 because of the breach of the bio-bubble that saw two Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)players – Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier — being tested positive and a few players in the loop line.
IPL chairman Brijesh Patel said all games would be suspended as the number of cases grows within the tournament’s bio-security bubble.
The immediate concern for the BCCI is the safe return of foreign players to their respective countries. “The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021,” said the BCCI in its statement.
Australian cricketers Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson (both Royal Challengers Bangalore) Andrew Tye (Rajasthan Royals) last week had left the IPL, returning home via Qatar.
But any Australian attempting that journey now risks jail time and fines amid the travel ban, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison said such sanctions were “extremely remote”.
Cricket Australia said that they were in direct contact with the BCCI as they work through plans to ensure the safe accommodation and repatriation of Australian players, coaches, match officials, and commentators back home to Australia.
“Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association understand the decision of the BCCI to indefinitely postpone the 2021 Indian Premier League for the safety and wellbeing of all participants,” read a joint statement from Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association on Tuesday.
It further added: “CA and the ACA respect the decision of the Australian Government to pause travel from India until at least May 15 and will not seek exemptions.’’
For BCCI, it was an ill-advised adventure that ended in a big embarrassment. There were many theories of holding the tournament in India, that too in six venues, was itself a recipe for disaster. But the BCCI had their own reasons to hold the tournament in India instead of the UAE because they had successfully conducted the home series against England in all three formats.
The English Premier League or La Liga in Spain or NBA in the USA were conducted. There were cases of a few players testing positive but they could do it in front of the empty stadiums. So BCCI thought it could pull it off in India. But it failed miserably for different reasons though.
Even at the start of the tournament on April 9, the pandemic was not as vigorous as it has been in the last two weeks. The first leg matches at Mumbai and Chennai were successfully gone through although there were initial jitters as three players and groundsmen tested positive.
However, once the second leg started at Delhi and Ahmedabad where the Covid-19 cases were on the rise. The bio-bubble burst and began to disrupt the tournament. To be honest, it was nipped in the bud and BCCI made a sensible decision to suspend the tournament.
The BCCI may be regretting now if only the IPL 2021 was held in the UAE as they did the IPL-2020 in September in three venues last year. The damage has been done. In the hindsight, the IPL disaster would now force the BCCI to hold the T20 World in the UAE instead of India.
In fact, the International Cricket Council (ICC) officials were to visit the venues in India, including Hyderabad, but they cancelled it given the grave Covid-19 situation. Now India’s tour of England could be in doubt also.
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