IPL postponement: BCCI’s caravan model, laxity come under fire

New Delhi: The Indian cricket board has been left red-faced following the indefinite postponement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) with questions raised about the loopholes in following the bio-bubble.

The BCCI which was adamant in hosting the IPL in India this time and not the UAE “since it is an Indian tournament and belongs to India” is split as a body over the issue.

It has been learnt that certain sections of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) wanted the IPL to be held in the UAE. However, their suggestion was rejected. Among those suggesting for the IPL to be held in UAE were IPL chairman Brijesh Patel as well as former cricketer Surinder Khanna, a member of the Apex Council as Indian Cricketers’ Association representative. Khanna has since been replaced in ICA by another former cricketer Pragyan Ojha.

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“The biggest mistake the BCCI made was holding it in a caravan system. This was meant to ensure that the pitches don’t get overused and no team gets home advantage. Additionally, it made associations happy,” said an official in the know of things.

“What they didn’t realise is that there was risk in travelling between different venues despite all the care taken. Some of the things demanded by BCCI like tarmac to tarmac transfer at airports was denied. Airport was a place where one could catch COVID-19 virus,” said the official.

A case in point was Kiran More’s positive test prior to the start of IPL. The former India stumper, who is with Mumbai Indians, had boarded the flight to Chennai with a negative test but five days after arrival in Chennai, he tested positive. He possibly caught the infection during travel.

Similarly, the positive cases that emerged in four of the eight teams that led to the postponement of the IPL happened during the second phase in Delhi and Ahmedabad, where the COVID-19 pandemic had taken a serious turn and COVID-19 patients are dying by the hundreds.

The teams travelled to both the cities from Mumbai and Chennai after the first phase ended there on April 25. Within a week positive cases emerged and the IPL was postponed.

“It would have made sense had the tournament been played in one venue like Mumbai or better still the UAE,” said the official. 

In fact, the franchises were okay with hosting the IPL in Mumbai which has four grounds considering that it wasn’t being held in the UAE. 

IANS had reported prior to the IPL that Mumbai was being considered a venue to host IPL games. For some reason, the BCCI decided to have it on a caravan model. 

There are questions over the BCCI’s decision to allow food delivery from outside. In the UAE edition of IPL as well as India’s tour of Australia, food delivery was allowed and there were no positive cases. The UAE edition had witnessed positive cases only on arrival from India.

Realising that they have made a mistake in allowing the same leeway of food delivery in a country that is witnessing rapid surge in COVID-19 cases eventually banned it just last week. But by then, it was too late.

The management of the bio-bubble was always going to be tough in India. In the UAE, since the venues were three and within proximity of each other, it was easier to manage.

In India, there was no control over the local associations. In Delhi, for example, it emerged on Wednesday morning that two outsiders with the purpose of betting, managed to sneak into the bio-bubble by getting accreditation. 

The BCCI is yet to comment on the issue.

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