Rahul Dravid, the former India captain and current head of cricket at the National Cricket Academy, has called for a wait-and-watch approach before the resumption of cricket in the country, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dravid also suggested that the Indian domestic season could be trimmed if it doesn't start on time.
"I don't think we are in a position to resume…. It is better to be patient and wait," Dravid told The Week, an Indian magazine. "We have to take it month by month. One has to look at all options. If the domestic season, which usually starts by August-September, starts in October… one has to see whether the season should be shortened.
"Everything is uncertain right now. How much cricket will be played and what it will take to be able to play depends on the guidelines from the government and medical experts. For us at NCA, the busiest time is from April to June. We normally have our zonal, U-16, U-19, U-23 camps happening at this time. [But] we had to keep redrawing plans. I just hope we don't lose a lot of our cricket season, and that we can get some cricket this year."
Looking ahead to a possible resumption, Dravid said that the NCA, located in Bengaluru, will first be aiming at training local cricketers. Last month, the Indian government had relaxed restrictions on sporting events, allowing them to resume behind closed doors, but there are still travel restrictions in place and many regions in the country are still under lockdown.
"The NCA will possibly open initially for some local cricketers," Dravid said. "Those arriving from other places will have to first quarantine themselves for 14 days. Whether that is possible, we have to see.
"For domestic cricket, fortunately, we were able to complete most of our competitions before the lockdown. We have to see whether players are comfortable with inter-state travel. Our training programmes will depend on which domestic tournament will be played first. If it is T20, then we will start the programme accordingly."
The England-West Indies Test series in the UK, which begins with the first Test from July 8 in Southampton, will mark the resumption of international cricket following the coronavirus outbreak. The three-Test series will be played in bio-secure environments, but Dravid reckoned that it might not be as "easy" to create similar environments at domestic level in India. Last month, Dravid also said that playing in a bio-secure bubble will not always be a viable solution in the Covid-19 era.
"In international cricket, it is possible," Dravid said of bio-secure environments. "I believe the England-West Indies series will be a lesson for all. It has its own challenges. It is not as easy at the domestic level."
Dravid said that age-group camps might be held if the Covid-19 situation eases, but stressed that safety was top priority.
"The best-case scenario is that we will be able to hold some camps once cricket activity is allowed," he said. "The worst-case scenario is the season is totally washed out [for age-group cricket]. Missing a few months of cricket is nothing compared with ensuring we are safe."