COVID-19: Cricket’s lingering ray of hope during pandemic

Omkar Paranjape
Monday, 18 May 2020

Despite the Govt allowing to reopen sports stadia, BCCI sources say any proper discussion about the IPL will start only in August.

Pune: With the Home Ministry allowing for the reopening of sports complexes and stadiums, BCCI has said it will coordinate with various State associations to prepare a skill-based training programme for cricketers.

Among several relaxations outside containment zones announced is that sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open, albeit with no spectators. However, all domestic and international air travel of passengers remains banned till the end of this month with an exception for domestic medical services, domestic air ambulance and security purposes permitted by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

However, with restrictions on air travel and movement continuing, the board won’t rush into organising training camps for its contracted players, BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said on Sunday.

Spectators will still not be permitted at these venues once practice resumes but will sports events including the big-ticker Indian Premier League (IPL) be held sooner?

The answer is no as the government has still included sports events in the list of prohibited activities. With the restrictions of air travel and movement continuing, the logistics anyway won’t allow for the organisation of such large-scale tournaments.

Nothing concrete
Even BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal has ruled out any possibility of IPL happening soon.

“The IPL at the moment is not possible because travel restrictions are still there,” Dhumal told The Indian Express. “So, how can you have the IPL without any travel happening? We are studying these guidelines and will study state governments’ guidelines also. Accordingly, we will plan.”

However, BCCI will allow cricketers to resume outdoor training at their local stadiums. “At a local level, cricketers can go to stadiums and resume outdoor training. But the entire team cannot get together because players are scattered.,” Dhumal said.

Also, BCCI will look to chalk out a plan to begin the skill-based training programme at the local with the help of the State Cricket Associations.

“In the meantime, the BCCI will study guidelines at the state level and will work in sync with State Cricket Associations to chalk out a programme for skill-based training at a local level,” the release stated.

However, BCCI did not touch upon hosting IPL this year, which, after the relaxation of permitting sports complexes and stadiums to open could facilitate in organising the tournament later this year, if the situation improves.

MCA waiting for BCCI’s call
Riyaz Bagwan, the secretary of the Maharashtra Cricket Association, informed Sakal Times over a phone-call that the training and tournament schedule for the Indian domestic circuit is expected to be released before the lockdown ends on May 31. The BCCI is expected to announce a domestic calendar which is likely to be disrupted due to the Corona Virus pandemic.

Bagwan, also clarified that the Maharashtra Ranji team are training in isolation as per the guidelines from the team fitness trainers.

“All our players are using various facilities with prior permissions and precautions to train with the help of Maharashtra Ranji team trainers. We are also trying to be in touch with all the district associations to look after the players,” Bagwan added.

With no action for more than five months, the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje is in a state of hibernation. Bagwan hopes the Ranji team will slowly be incorporated in the training mode now that the government has allowed the sports stadiums to reopen.

“We hope that the players are allowed to train in safe environments with ample health & safety measures in place,” the official concluded.

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