BCCI flexible with 'back-up' plans for 2020-21 domestic season

Saba Karim, the BCCI General Manager, Cricket Operations, says the Board has time on its side but is assessing the situation on a 'month-on-month' basis.

BCCI General Manager, Cricket Operations, Saba Karim says the Board is trying to stay positive with the domestic season still four months away   -  vijay soneji

 

The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only affected the international cricketing calendar, it could also jumble up India’s domestic roster in 2020-21.

Usually, the country’s vast domestic tournaments start by August, but at present, there is no clarity on the schedule. However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is optimistic about incorporating as many matches as possible.

“As of now, we are taking it month by month. We will see how things go and then take it forward,” Saba Karim, BCCI’s General Manager, Cricket Operations, told Sportstar.

The Board has ‘back-up plans’ but it would eventually need to assess the situation. “We have our plans ready, but unless things open up, we can’t do anything about it,” the former India wicketkeeper-batsman said.

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“We need to follow the government guidelines [the duration of the lockdown]. As and when there is a change, we will assess it and take things forward,” Karim added.

The Board decided to suspend all cricketing activities in March, even postponing the Irani Cup fixture between Saurashtra and Rest of India in Rajkot.

In the 2019-20 season, the BCCI conducted a record 2,035 games across age groups in men’s and women’s category. For the past two seasons, the number of matches have also gone up, with the entry of 10 new teams in the Ranji Trophy.

The officials start preparing for the domestic season by May to ensure that all grounds are well-maintained.

“Infrastructure-wise, the grounds are all ready. Once things open up, hosting matches won’t be an issue at all. At this stage, I am sure all the state associations are doing everything (necessary),” Karim said.

The state associations are already at work. While Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association has already appointed Chandrakant Pandit as its head coach, Baroda has roped in Dav Whatmore as the cricket director. “The planning has already started. It is true that things are bit unclear, but we need to ensure that we are well prepared. So, this lockdown has eventually given us a lot of time to come out with proper plans for the season,” one of the state association officials stated.

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Most of the these associations have started online training sessions for their players. “This has to be treated as a pre-season [training] and we have already started online sessions with coaches, physios. The players are benefitting from it,” Cricket Association of Bengal president, Avishek Dalmiya, said.

Even women’s cricket has taken a hit due to the COVID-19 and the course of action remains to be seen. “We are awaiting BCCI guidelines on the issue. These are tough times and we have to deal with it accordingly,” a state association official stated.

There are chances that the IPL could be considered for a September-October window, right before the ICC World Twenty20 in Australia. What about the domestic matches then? “We are yet to decide on the IPL, so whether it will clash with the domestic season or not is too early to predict,” one of the BCCI office-bearers said.

It’s not just the BCCI, even the England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have suspended all cricketing activities till at least July.

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