While the current situation going on across the world is not promising at all, Manoj Badale, majority owner at Rajasthan Royals, has delivered a very promising statement regarding this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). As things stand, there is absolutely no clarity over whether the league will take place this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
IPL 2020 was scheduled to start on March 29. However, the BCCI suspended the league till April 15 in the wake of the outbreak. With the country currently under a mandatory 21-day lockdown, the chances of IPL starting this month looks very slim. Reports also suggest that the tournament could be cancelled altogether this year.
However, Manoj Badale has said that the prospect of a “shortened” tournament is increasing. But at the same time, he made it clear that even a shortened IPL would be subject to collaboration between the BCCI and other cricket boards. He further said that he would prefer some form of IPL this year, including a version that is played just between the Indian players in case their overseas counterparts cannot join in.
“The cricket calendar is so packed. There are very few gaps especially for a seven-week tournament, so I suspect even if a gap can be found, it would have to be a shorter tournament,” Manoj Badale told BBC Worldservice.
“And the uniqueness of the IPL is it gets the very, very best around the world so it is not just a collaboration between the BCCI, the owners and the Indian government, you need the collaboration of the other cricket boards as well. Because what makes the IPL special is the presence of not just the Kohlis and the Dhonis, but also the Stokeses and the Warners and the Butlers,” he added.
With every cricket board being forced to postpone their bilateral and domestic events, it is unlikely they would grant permission for their key players to participate even in a shortened IPL if it were to be played later this year. When asked whether Rajasthan Royals would be happy to feature in an event comprising just Indian players, Manoj Badale said:
“If it was a choice of no IPL or a domestic player-only IPL I would choose the latter. He also insisted it would be possible to make up some “very compelling teams” with just the Indian players although his preference was for a combination of the “very best in the world” with the “very best in India.”
He also said that there is a big possibility of the IPL taking place this year in some form. Citing the importance of IPL for the board and other stakeholders, Badale said:
“I think we will have some form of tournament this year. It will probably be a shortened tournament. As long as people are prepared to be creative and as long as boards are prepared to work together collaboratively, it [IPL] is hugely important to the game of cricket. It is not just of importance to the Indians that the IPL takes place.
“It is important for the whole game. It is [important] economically for some of the best players in the world. It is economically meaningful for the event organisers and for the broadcasters that participate. So the trickle down effect of a tournament as big as the IPL not taking place in terms of its impact on more than just the players but (also) all the people whose livelihoods depend on it is pretty significant. So we have a responsibility to try and a find a way of playing it if we possibly can,” he added.
Well, the BCCI has never shied away from taking bold steps to make sure that the IPL happens every year since its inception in 2008. In 2009, the BCCI had conducted the entire tournament in South Africa because it coincided with India’s general elections. For the same reason, part of the 2014 edition was shifted to the UAE at short notice.