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Whither IPL !

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The cash rich cricket governing body Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has postponed the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 until further notice.

With the nation-wide lockdown extended to May 3 due to Covid 19 Pandemic, the BCCI top brass — including president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah — has  decided that the tournament will be suspended until further notice. Finding a new window for the IPL 2020 will now be a huge challenge for BCCI.

 Jay Shah said in a press release recently : “Due to the evolving global health concerns regarding COVID-19 and lockdown measures implemented by the Government of India to contain the spread of the pandemic, the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 Season will be suspended till further notice.” 

 “The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority and as such, the BCCI along with the Franchise Owners, Broadcaster, Sponsors and all the stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so,” the release said.

” BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in close partnership with all of its stakeholders and will continue to take guidance from the Government of India, State Governments and other State Regulatory bodies,” the release concluded.

“No play, no pay ” could well be the fate of players, who have signed up for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), which has been postponed and seems unlikely to go ahead unless BCCI figures an alternate window later in the year, compromising a few bilateral commitments. 

“The system of IPL payments is that 15 per cent is paid a week before the tournament starts. 65 per cent more is paid during the tournament. The remaining 20 percent is paid within a stipulated time after the tournament ends,” a senior official of an IPL franchise told PTI.

“The BCCI has specific guidelines. Obviously, no player will be paid as of now.”he added.

In fact, the economic implications of a season without IPL could be huge, admitted  the Indian Cricketers’ Association president Ashok Malhotra.

Former Indian spinner Saradindu Mukherjee told this writer in an interview :  “In case ,the IPL is cancelled, there will be a huge loss,with  financial implications for all parties,may be in the franchises,may be BCCI,and may be the broadcasters,there would be a huge impact on the cricket world.Without playing there is no other way to recover the lost  revenues.But we have to wait because it’s a kind of act of God which has happened through this Covid 19 and to fight with the nature is impossible. “

Former Indian Crickter Rajesh Dani told me -“The condition in which the entire world finds itself  at present because of the pandemic makes saving the lives of the people the top priority. “

Asked if  the close door match was a good idea, Dani said :  “As such it won’t really be a very good idea to play the game in closed doors without the presence of spectators . Let’s all pray the world gets back to normal as soon as possible so that the game could be played with spectators to watch .” 

Dani said in an interview conducted for  the Easternlink-“The young and promising cricketers, not all of them though, are getting detracted to some extent because of the glamour and money in the IPL. In my personal opinion the young and promising cricketers should aim to play test cricket and if they can do that , all else  will fall in place. ” 

When I put the same set of questions to  former all rounder and the Director at Cricket Association of  Bengal (CAB) Joydeep Mukherjee told me : ”  Ultimately it is your cricket that will get you there and more importantly help you stay there. Everything else that comes with the razzmatazz will only last if the game  survives . Today’s players  have a better maturity level and understand the realities quickly. There might a couple who fall by the wayside but that’s only a very insignificant number. Also one very important thing to remember is that every cricketer doing well in the IPL are also doing very well for their state so they are players who are vying to play in any of the 3 versions for India. “

 After lockdown was extended and the IPL was  postponed, Bollywood Actor Shah Rukh Kahn expressed his disappointment through social media.”Damn I miss the unpredictable and capricious nature of the IPL tournament now!!!.” SRK  is the co-owner of two-times IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders currently led by wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly says there is no clarity on the fate of IPL 2020 as the country faces a lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic. ” Priority is safety,which is why we postponed the game.Nobody has a choice,” Ganguly told mediapersons.

Is IPL a type of gambling?
Ex Indian Spinner Saradindu Mukherjee responded :  “No,I don’t think IPL is a gambling because now a days we have legal betting companies. One can pick your own team before a game,and you can put your own money and I think this is done to stop illegal betting and stop match fixing and that kind of stuff .Anti corruption unit,I must say , is working overtime”. 
“‘ Fans are such an important factor in the success of the IPL that having sat in the dug out with 75,000 fans screaming, I cannot imagine an IPL without the fans. ‘”-Joydeep Mukherjee told Easternlink.
” There should be a basic standard in picking up players for IPL  from domestic arena.Those who have atleast played 4/5 vital matches for Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy should be put in the auction.”

( Pratyusha Mukherjee , a sports journalist working for BBC and other media outlets,   is a regular contributor to Easternlink)

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