IPL 2021 and T20 World Cup - what happens next?
The BCCI announced its decision to postpone IPL 2021 after it was discovered that a third team - and possibly a fourth - had at least one positive case of Covid-19. What happens next? And what of the T20 World Cup, scheduled for later in the year?
When is the IPL likely to resume?
These are the operative parts of the BCCI statement:
"… it is imperative that the tournament is now suspended and everyone goes back to their families and loved ones in these trying times."
"The BCCI will do everything in its powers to arrange for the secure and safe passage of all the participants in IPL 2021."
"The BCCI would like to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff, franchises, sponsors, partners and all the service providers who have tried their best to organise IPL 2021 even in these extremely difficult times."
When is the likeliest window?
The inevitable question once everyone has been sent safely home is: when can they finish the IPL?
Things are unlikely to improve soon enough, so you can rule out a completion before India's tour of England. India's top players are free in July - between the WTC final and the Tests in England - but it might just not be possible to figure everything out and move it out of India and finish it in time for the commitments in England.
India return in September and they are hosting New Zealand before the T20 World Cup in November. So September might be a possible window and might give the BCCI enough time to sort out logistics and venues, etc.
The BCCI's biggest immediate challenge
Given the stated aim - rightly so - is to get every participant to their families and loved ones, the biggest immediate challenge for the BCCI is to get overseas players into their respective countries.
As it stands, most countries in the world have already banned entry for those coming in from India, or are contemplating it. Australia is one of the countries that have done the former. New Zealand is still allowing citizens back in. The UK will require those coming in to quarantine for ten days at a government-approved hotel and test on days two and eight. However, the UAE, a major transit point for most flights, has stopped entertaining flights from India. Air travel from India to Bangladesh stands suspended but the land border is open with the caveat of a 14-day quarantine.
What happens to the T20 World Cup?
One of the lessons from this IPL, even after making an allowance for the dramatic surge in cases as compared to during the England Test series, is that it is a different ball game to organise a multi-team event with multiple venues and air travel involved.
It is no surprise that cases emerged inside the strict IPL bubbles within days of their travel from Chennai and Mumbai to Delhi and Ahmedabad. This will raise questions on whether it is safe to host the T20 World Cup in India.
The ICC will surely look into it and take the BCCI's inputs on it. We already know that the UAE is a back-up option in a worst-case scenario.