With the IPL 2021 postponed, not cancelled, as has been indicated by several top-brass board and league officials, the logical question arises: If the league has been shut temporarily midway through the season, when will or more appropriately should it resume?
There’s no immediate available window to explore for the BCCI considering the packed international schedule and the logistical nightmare that could arise due to the travel restrictions imposed as a result of coronavirus pandemic across the globe. So where exactly is the Indian cricket board wondering it can fit in the remainder of the season this year? We take a brief look
How many matches remain in IPL 2021?
A total of 60 matches were scheduled for the season of which 29 were done with before Kolkata Knight Riders vs Royal Challengers Bangalore was postponed. So, 31 matches are still to be played.
What are the possible windows?
As of now there seem to be two windows. The first being the time leading up to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 starting from the end of India’s tour of England in mid of September. The second is post T20 World Cup.
What are the venues?
There could be three - India, UAE and even England. All carry their own set of advantages and challenges. More on this later.
How can IPL fit in ahead of T20 WC?
India’s tour of England is scheduled to be over by September 14 - the final day of the fifth and final Test in Manchester. The itinerary for the T20 WC is yet to be decided but in all probability, it will start from the mid of October. This leaves a window of just about a month. And three possible scenarios as well.
Scenario 1: If it’s held in England
A report on Thursday claimed that a group of English counties has expressed interest in hosting the remainder of IPL 2021 matches. If it is indeed held in England, it will sort out the availability of Indian and English players. Additionally, a host of international players may also be in the country playing in various domestic competitions including The Hundred.
Scenario 2: If it’s held in UAE
UAE conducted IPL 2020 successfully amidst the pandemic. So it has proven its credentials. This scenario works best in the event if the T20 WC is also moved out of India which will ease the logistical nightmare. However, it all depends on how the coronavirus pandemic progresses during the year. Should the situation ease out, BCCI will obviously prefer hosting the marquee event in India.
Scenario 3: If the season is completed in India
This one is a bit trickier. India cricketers will only be available after September 14 once they are through with the international tour. Along with other overseas players, once they arrive home, quarantine requirement will eat into the available window.
Workload and Fatigue
Indian players will be coming from a long tour of England where they are to play six Tests starting June 18. Will they want to be thrown into the deep end of a T20 league without having a chance to rest, say, for a week or so? Additionally, if the WC starts from October 16 in India, teams will start arriving at least by September end to complete quarantine requirements and for practice matches in the lead up to the event. This means two weeks are left for BCCI to organise 31 matches.
Let’s say, they manage to pull it off, how long before one or multiple India players end up with fitness issues considering they will be playing back-to-back three high-profile series in the space of nearly five months?
What about post T20 WC - Late November?
Exploring this window leaves us with two venues - India and UAE. However, since several teams are scheduled to play international cricket once T20 WC ends, this will mean the franchises will be without their several overseas stars. In fact, India are to host New Zealand in November-December as well. England, Australia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc all have international assignments.
IPL franchises will then have to look for other overseas stars and may even delay New Zealand tour.