Renowned cricket pundit and commentator, Harsha Bhogle weighed in on the prospect of the Indian cricket team playing two different formats simultaneously post the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
During a live Instagram session with the official ICC handle, Harsha Bhogle opined that it may not be the most welcome thing for both the fans and the broadcasters if two separate Indian cricket teams were to take the field in different formats at the same time. Bhogle pointed out certain crucial concerns, like the fans not getting hooked on to matches which won't feature the likes of Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja or Jasprit Bumrah.
He reckoned that the BCCI will have to tread extremely cautiously on that path considering the huge investment of third parties like the TV broadcasters and sponsors. However, Bhogle added that the BCCI could opt for that route in the T20 format in case of extreme circumstances.
Harsha Bhogle said:
"Post-COVID is this lovely, lovely place that everyone hopes to visit someday. We don't know where it is, this wonderful mystical place. Hopefully, we'll get there quickly. But you got to look from the public's point of view. Is the public going to turn up to watch a game without Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Jadeja? Are people going to come and watch when these four or five players aren't playing? So I think we've got to look at it from the Box Office point of view as well. Are the television networks going to be happy to have a white-ball game without Rohit, or Virat? Is India going to go into a Test match game without either of those, unthinkable? I don't think so. If there is a genuine traffic jam, a big long jam maybe, you can think of having a T20 game without some of these stars but in general, I think you'd find advertisers, television networks, spectators, all complaining a bit."
BCCI takes cautious approach regarding the Indian cricket team's return to action
In a statement, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal clarified that the Board won't rush into putting players back onto the field after relaxations in the lockdown. He stuck to BCCI's stance of adhering to government directives and guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that the health and well being of players, coaches, officials and those in the stadiums covering the Indian cricket team's matches were of paramount importance.
"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken note of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday for containment of COVID-19 across the country."
"Taking into the account the restrictions on air travel and movement of people till May 31, the BCCI will wait further before organizing a skill-based training camp for its contracted players. The Board reiterates that the safety and well-being of its athletes and support staff is paramount and will not rush into any decision that can hamper or jeopardize India’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus."
"In the meantime, the BCCI will study guidelines at the state level and will work in sync with State Cricket Associations to chalk out a programme for skill-based training at a local level. The BCCI Office-Bearers will continue their interactions with the team management and draw up a suitable plan for the entire team once the situation further improves."