IPL 2020: Why the July-September window may not work out for the league
- There are various reasons, including the Indian monsoon which makes the July-September window unfeasible
- If the IPL is cancelled in 2020, the BCCI, the broadcasters, and the franchises will incur huge losses.
COVID-19 has had a massive impact around the world. It has caused the most basic activities come to a screeching halt in several countries. Most sporting events across the world have been stopped, cancelled, or postponed.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has also been postponed. It is not going to start anytime before 15 April 2020, with reports that this season may be a truncated version. There's also a scenario of the IPL getting deferred to a July-September window.
But there are multiple reasons why the July-September window might not work for the IPL.
First things first. The weather is an uncontrollable factor and July to September is India’s peak monsoon season. Most of the Indian cities receive pretty decent rainfall during these months and it will have an adverse effect on the playing conditions, pitches, and the outfield. It is for this reason that there’s barely any cricket in India in the months of June, July, and August. It’s mainly mid or late September and at times early October when the Indian home season begins.
There were even rumours that a part or the entire season of the IPL may be played outside India during July to September within a duration of 5-6 weeks. But this option interferes with the international cricket calendar. There are at least 7 bilateral series scheduled between July and September in addition to the proposed Asia Cup.
July to September is also the peak cricketing season in England. Be it domestic or international matches, the English cricketers are busy with their home season. The West Indies tour England for three Test matches in June before Pakistan land to play three Tests and as many T20Is. Australia also play England in the latter’s hectic home season in white-ball cricket (three ODIs and three T20Is).
Meanwhile New Zealand and South Africa are scheduled to travel to the Caribbean. While New Zealand play only white-ball cricket (three ODIs and as many T20Is), South Africa are scheduled to take part in a three-match Test series in addition to a five-match T20I series as nations prepare for the all-important T20 World Cup in October-November in Australia. The Asia Cup is also scheduled to be held in September with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) agreeing to host it at a neutral venue. India simply has to take part in the event.
Let’s assume that the BCCI finishes the IPL before the Asia Cup in September but the other teams will still be affected. The players from Australia, England, West Indies, New Zealand, and South Africa form the crux of the overseas stars in the IPL. Imagine Rajasthan Royals without Steve Smith, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes or Sunrisers Hyderabad without David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson or even Mumbai Indians without Kieron Pollard, Quinton de Kock and Trent Boult for the entire season. Be it any franchise, they will be affected, and barring odd overseas players here and there, they will have to look for replacements if the regulars are away on international duty.
Even if the international calendar issues are somehow sorted, there's another league to contend with. The England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) all-new ‘The Hundred’ is set for its debut season, running from 17 July to 15 August. With England already busy with their international commitments, whatever time the English players will be left with, they will allot to ‘The Hundred’. There are multiple overseas players who are also due to take part in this new experimental format. There will be a clash between the two boards and their T20 leagues.
There’s absolutely no doubt that if the IPL is cancelled in 2020, everyone including the broadcasters, the franchises, the BCCI and the others will incur huge losses. But the July-September window for the IPL might be difficult to work with. The IPL can still take place, be it under closed doors or later in the Indian summer with a truncated season. However, the July-September window may just not be an option given the multiple drawbacks. At the moment, fans can just play the waiting game and see how things pan out.
Published 20 Mar 2020, 11:09 IST