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IPL 2021 paused: BCCI can take a leaf out of NBA's 2019-20's pause and restart model

IPL 2021 has already seen two matches being rescheduled
IPL 2021 has already seen two matches being rescheduled
ANALYST
Modified 04 May 2021
Feature

Perhaps it was time for IPL 2021 to hit pause, and thankfully it did. Ironically, this comes from a writer who previously wrote that it was okay for cricket to stare down the barrel of a COVID-19 shotgun as a show of resilience and sheer bravado.

It's time to admit the so-called bio-bubble wasn't a safe haven anymore, as IPL reached the midway stage. The official green channel where players safely transit from the bubble to the pandemic-riddled world wasn't exactly bulletproof.

Much of this stems from recent developments after a major scare came in from the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) camp that saw two of their players, Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier, test positive for the coronavirus. The result was the game being postponed between Kolkata and the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

The smartest and safest choice, for now, would be to push the tournament to a later date rather than risk bringing in new changes to the whole bubble and scheduling rigmarole.

When Covid breached IPL: Varun Chakravarthy tested positive for COVID-19 on May 3
When Covid breached IPL: Varun Chakravarthy tested positive for COVID-19 on May 3

With the BCCI pausing IPL 2021, it wouldn't be the first organization to have made the strong call. This time last year, sports took a complete backseat across the world as people struggled to come to grips with the pandemic.

A classic example of an ongoing tournament that was shelved was the NBA's 2019-20 season that went on hiatus on March 11, 2020, and only returned in July after careful and comprehensive planning with a focus on player health and adherence to safety protocols.


Should IPL 2021 take a leaf out of NBA's previous move?

Definitely not a bad idea, considering the situation we are in. It all went down at Oklahoma's Chesapeake Arena between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder after the Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive.

The Jazz released a statement later on. Without naming Gobert, they added that the player tested negative Wednesday morning for flu, strep throat, and an upper respiratory infection.

His symptoms faded as the day went along but the decision was made to test the player for COVID-19 and it came back with a preliminary positive result. What followed was a string of positive tests across multiple teams. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets, Christian Wood of the New Orleans Pelicans, and Marcus Smart from Boston Celtics all tested positive, and recovered.

By then, the decision was made to push the tournament to a later date. The season would make a return in July where the teams would resume where they all stopped at the Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

The pattern of the issue is pretty similar and the BCCI, while having got most things right in the form of bubbles and stringent testing, can afford to push the 2021 IPL to a later date.

After all, it was done last year and UAE eventually became the venue for an enjoyable IPL that was held as 2020 drew to a close.


The pros of pushing IPL 2021 and having a restart later

While an argument can be made that IPL franchises and BCCI have spent a great deal of money on the players and the efforts taken to get the tournament underway, it's time to call a spade a spade.

Player safety is paramount. As a tournament, IPL provides skilled athletes a platform to showcase their potential. If these same players are exposed to a life-threatening pandemic, it just comes across as a risky move.

Plus, players could use a break from what has been a stressful IPL so far. Bubble fatigue has been a constant discussion point over the last few months as cricket resumed across the world.

While the prospect of playing is enough for some, there's also the danger of breaking down due to the challenges and stress that come with life in the bubble.

Then comes the whole point of 'BCCI cares for more than the IPL'. Times are turbulent and it isn't just about the players. The country is struggling with issues that go far beyond physical suffering.

IPL matters so does an issue like bubble fatigue
IPL matters so does an issue like bubble fatigue

Death and mental issues are just the tip of the iceberg and using the time and resources to probably help those in need would not just mean a ridiculously generous and respectable move, but it also shows how the entity cares for society.

The IPL has been a much-needed source of entertainment, but sometimes the bigger picture matters more than slam-bang cricket.

Published 04 May 2021
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