Scheduling IPL 2019 before World Cup could be Indian cricket’s Frankenstein’s Monster Moment
The very popular Indian Premier League will host its twelfth edition in 2019. This will be the third time since its inception in 2008 that we will have the IPL and the ICC World Cup in the same year.
But unlike the two previous such occasions, what makes 2019 different is that for the first time the IPL will precede the World Cup.
The first time IPL and the World Cup happened in the same year was in 2011. The World Cup ended on 2nd April with India lifting the trophy in the Wankhede Stadium by defeating Sri Lanka. The whole nation burst into celebrations. The IPL that followed the next week on 8th April was simply another one and a half months of celebration of cricket by the Indian fans.
The second such occasion of IPL and World Cup happening in the same year was in 2015. The World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand ended on 29th March, though India’s campaign had already ended a few days before in its semi-final loss to the eventual champion Australia.
The IPL that year began around 10 days after the conclusion of the World CupC on 8th April. The spirit of the Indian fans was dampened after the World cup loss and that showed in a general lack of enthusiasm for the 2015 IPL.
Unlike 2011 and 2015, the upcoming IPL of 2019 is going to take place before the World Cup. So, the lack of enthusiasm from fans in 2015 will not be a factor this time as the World Cup would be hosted only after IPL.
All the IPL teams seem to be already getting ready for the 2019 version as is evident from the way Mumbai Indians have bolstered their team by ‘buying’ the South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock from Royal Challengers Bangalore. It’s clear that all the franchises and BCCI are gearing up to make IPL 2019 a raging success.
So, IPL 2019 may actually end up as a success, in terms of fan enthusiasm and the resultant TRP ratings. But how is the IPL going to impact India’s chances in the World Cup that quickly follows it?
The almost 50-day long competition will conclude on 19th May. And the World Cup to be hosted in England begins within 10 days, on 30th of May. All the top Indian cricketers including those in the World Cup squad will be a part of this IPL and 50 days of cricket would exhaust them no end.
In recent times, BCCI has followed a rotation policy for its top cricketers including Virat Kohli to keep them fresh, keeping an eye on important future assignments such as the Australia tour later this year and the World Cup next year.
But all this effort to keep Indian cricketers fresh for the World Cup would come to naught if they are made to play in the IPL. Going by the seriousness of the franchises and BCCI in keeping up the success story of the IPL brand, it’s unlikely top Indian players will be allowed to skip many matches, let alone skipping the IPL altogether.
Each team will have to play at least 14 matches even if they fail to qualify for the knockout stage. This will completely drain the players physically and mentally. And there is always the off chance that some key player(s) may pick up an injury, as being professional cricketers, they will be playing with intensity whenever they are on the field.
This is the reason why some cricket boards have explicitly barred their players from participating in 2019 IPL – Bangladesh Cricket Board’s decision to bar their strike bowler Mustafizur Rahman is one such example.
IPL has admittedly done a lot for the growth of cricket in India, and the world. It has helped many cricketers to showcase their skills in front of the whole world, who would otherwise have ended their career in obscurity, by toiling in the domestic tournaments. IPL has also helped many of these fringe players financially.
IPL is certainly one of the biggest success stories of BCCI. But by scheduling the tournament just before the all-important World Cup in 2019, BCCI is running a great risk of jeopardising India’s chances to lift a 3rd World Cup. Let’s just hope this does not turn out to be BCCI’s Frankenstein’s Monster moment, where one’s own creation ends up harming the creator.