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BCCI Snubs ICC, Presses Ahead With IPL Preparation

With the International Cricket Council (ICC) refusing to cancel the T20 World Cup, and instead holding out to see how the situation develops, the BCCI has been forced to play its big hand and press on with preparation for the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL 2020). The decision puts all parties at risk, and is in effect a signal to the world body about who holds the power in the game.
IPL 2020 vs ICC World T20

While running behind the Indian Premier League (IPL), citing the need to restart domestic cricket, the BCCI is conveniently forgetting to address the fate of the upcoming season of Ranji Trophy, India’s real domestic tournament.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seems to have reached the end of its patience with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC’s) dithering over the 2020 T20 World Cup. The Board has decided to make its own plans for the remainder of the season. 

The Times of India reported that the BCCI has started preparing a provisional window for this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) regardless of the decision made by the world body on the World T20. 

This was confirmed by BCCI treasurer Arun Dhamal in a statement. “The year started on a horrible note and there's been no relief on any front. But as time goes by, we need to take things head on and ensure that we remain prepared for any eventuality. Cricket is no different. It is time for the BCCI to start planning for the year ahead.”

Dhumal, despite being the treasurer, has recently transformed into the governing body’s most publicised spokesperson, justified the BCCI’s decision by pointing towards the worldwide trend of countries gradually returning to the mainstream sports on the home front. 

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“The NBA is beginning in the US in a protected zone. The English Premier League (EPL) is on and so are the FA Cup matches. Bundesliga was the first to show the way. Even Australia's domestic rugby league is about to begin. This is what is happening right now. What BCCI is talking about is making plans, even if at the contingency levels, for September onwards,” he said.

Dhumal’s careful picking of events in his statement was intended to highlight how domestically countries are bringing back sport while staying away from international travel; the statement is to make clear that the BCCI may give priority to the IPL instead of international cricket because hosting domestic leagues at the moment seems easier. 

“So, what are we witnessing here? Domestic leagues are in focus while the Olympics and the World Cups are taking a backseat. That’s because local leagues don't depend on too many external factors to get going. Revenues are more localised; gate receipts aren't such a huge concern and local leagues can be trimmed and planned to suit particular windows. They’re also television friendly because they can be adjusted to primarily suit local prime time,” he said.

The BCCI is convinced that the delay in certain announcements has cost it a considerable amount of time and Indian cricket stakeholders believe they cannot wait for others to decide India’s next course of action. 

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“Those announcements and outcomes are not in our hands. The T20 World Cup, for instance, is being postponed so let the announcement come when it has to,” added Dhumal. 

"There have been meetings after meetings. And nothing has come out of a single meeting? Even the chairman has resigned. What's the ICC waiting for now?", multiple stakeholders said regarding the ICC”s dithering on the issue.

Conveniently ignored by Dhumal (and the rest of the BCCI) is any discussion about the Ranji Trophy, the real domestic tournament of the country. Also ignored by them is the fact that the leagues and tournaments quoted by him (Premier League, Bundesliga) are only going ahead because of a free international calendar. It is fair to say that if FIFA had scheduled its World Cup this year in the middle of the pandemic, the leagues would have been cancelled, postponed or altogether shut down to accommodate the quadrennial event. THe EPL, for example, would not be flaunting its clout and insisting their league go ahead regardless of FIFA’s World Cup.

Cricket’s international revenue is hugely dependent on World Cups and India tours. India’s revenues, in turn, depend mostly on the IPL. No wonder then that ‘domestic leagues’ is taking precedence. If the BCCI is, in fact, sincere about the fear of the spread of the pandemic, then it will  of course remember to not include any foreign players in the IPL rosters unless they fulfill their mandatory quarantine and/or offer support to Australia to host the World Cup in bio-secure venues by agreeing participation. A Word Cup without India will be a disaster for the ICC. A year without the IPL will be a disaster at a smaller scale for the money makers in the BCCI.

Scheduled to begin in March this year, the IPL was suspended indefinitely in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The ICC is yet to arrive at a decision on the T20 World Cup, which is currently expected to be held in October-November in Australia. Should the T20 World Cup get postponed, BCCI will then get a window to host the IPL. 

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