No consensus on India’s World Cup-bound IPL stars

With the Lok Sabha election set to override the schedule of the IPL, the BCCI has so far announced fixtures only for the first two weeks.

With the World Cup set to start around a fortnight after the conclusion of the IPL, the workload management of top stars in the cash-rich league has been in focus.   -  AFP

 

Less than three weeks before the start of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 12th edition, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is unsure whether the IPL franchises will let the BCCI medical team and selectors monitor the workload of key Indian cricketers.

When BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary was asked on Monday if a decision has been reached yet, he responded with: “Not yet”. To a pointed query on whether the franchises have agreed to rest cricketers in principle, he passed the buck to the national selectors.

“At this stage, it is not proper to divulge but we also have the selectors working on this,” he said, after the BCCI announced Tata Motors as a sponsor for the IPL.

READ| PCB demands 'visa guarantee' for cricketers for ICC tournaments in India

With the World Cup set to start around a fortnight after the conclusion of the IPL, the workload management of top stars in the cash-rich league has been in focus. Barring Afghanistan and the Windies, no other cricket board has allowed its World Cup-bound players to participate in the IPL for its entire duration.

Sportstar understands that in the annual conclave ahead of the player auction in December, the franchises had sought clarity over Indian cricketers’ availability. The BCCI had said it was up to the franchises to decide.

Since then, the BCCI and the selectors have been informally in discussion with the franchises to not overburden key cricketers, specially the pacers.

ALSO READ| BCCI to deal with Indian players' workload as World Cup looms

While announcing India’s squad for the home series against Australia, chief selector M.S.K. Prasad on February 15 had said they were looking to monitor workload of top 18 cricketers shortlisted for the World Cup. However, on Friday, Prasad during a panel discussion on a TV channel said “there is nothing wrong in playing IPL” before the World Cup.

Confusion prevails over start time

With the Lok Sabha election set to override the schedule of the IPL, the BCCI has so far announced fixtures only for the first two weeks. However, the uncertainty over start time of the games has prevailed for the second season in succession.

In 2018, after signing a whopping Rs. 16,300-plus crore broadcast deal, the host broadcaster had pressed for the start of IPL games to 5.30pm (for afternoon games) and 7pm (for evening games) instead of the conventional 4pm and 8pm starts. The BCCI refused to budge for the league stage but advanced the start of the playoffs to 7pm.

“It is still under evaluation. We are still considering whether to advance it a bit or keep it at 8pm because it also affects the afternoon game. For the last so many years, we have been playing 12 to 15 afternoon games so it impacts that,” said Hemang Amin, the IPL chief operating officer. “The players’ well-being will have to be considered if we are advancing it because if we advance the 8pm game to earlier, then we have to advance the afternoon game as well. Hopefully within a week or so we will announce the timings.”

Indo-Pak cricket concerns

During the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) meetings last week, it may have quashed India’s indirect demand of ICC asking all the cricket-playing nations to sever cricket ties with Pakistan, without naming the country.

When asked if the BCCI erred in not specifying Pakistan in the email written to the ICC by BCCI chief executive Rahul Johri on the instructions of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators, Choudhary said: “I have not written the letter.”

He added: “There were two points in that communication — the first point related to the security, well-being of the players and the fans. The second matter related to suggesting that India and other members of the ICC take no part with teams which comes from areas where certain phenomenon emanates from but the letter didn’t mention which areas.

To which the ICC chairman after discussing it with the Board, which is the only policy making body of the ICC, stated that it is not within the domain of the ICC to make a comment or make a decision.”