BCCI's hurdles in delivering remainder of IPL 2021 in UAE
The CPL rejig, India's home season, impact on T20 World Cup venues and more
Several challenges confront the BCCI as it plans conducting remainder of the IPL in the September-October window in the UAE. ESPNcricinfo looks at the key questions the BCCI will need to resolve for the tournament's smooth conduct.
Men's T20 World Cup
The 16-team global tournament has been scheduled to take place in India between mid-October and November 14. However with India being one of the worst-affected countries during the Covid-19 pandemic, the tournament is likely to move to the UAE. If that were to happen, player movement between the IPL and World Cup bubble would be one of BCCI's biggest advantage.
However, in the event the UAE is the venue for both tournaments, the most significant challenge for the ICC would be the fitness of the venues - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The ICC would ideally look at having a breathing space between the IPL and the World Cup to ensure pitch preparation and sprucing up of venues for the marquee tournament.
While there's little doubt about the quality of training venues, the ICC would be more mindful of the pitches (at the three big venues) slowing down due to the sheer amount of cricket being played on them. The three venues will end up hosting a total of 76 matches in case both the IPL and the World Cup were to happen in the UAE.
Of these, IPL would account for 31 games while 45 would be part of the World Cup quota, including the qualifiers at the start. Comparing that to the 2020 IPL, where all the 60 matches were conducted in the UAE. It would mean a total of 16 extra matches. It is learned that the ICC might consider including Oman as a potential venue for the first round of matches subject to permission from the UAE government for teams to cross borders without quarantining.
The other concern for the ICC would be the support period, where teams arrive and train. Usually this period starts a week before an ICC event begins. However, during the pandemic, the ICC will also need to factor in the quarantine norms set by the UAE government for different overseas countries, which could mean teams would need to land by end of September.
Another issue to address would be questions around the FTP. As things stand, India are scheduled to host South Africa for three T20Is and as many ODIs. India are also slotted to host New Zealand before the T20 World Cup.
Clash with the CPL
On May 20, the CPL announced the upcoming season would be held in St Kitts & Nevis between August 28-September 19. Given West Indies players are in much demand at the IPL, this could potentially have a direct impact. These players include Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine (both Kolkata Knight Riders), Chris Gayle, Nicholas Pooran (both Punjab Kings), Dwayne Bravo (Chennai Super Kings), Shimron Hetmeyer (Delhi Capitals).The other big-ticket overseas players at the CPL include Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir (Super Kings), Chris Morris (Barbados Tridents).
The big question for the CPL is how it can tweak its schedule so that the tournament to finish well in time for the IPL bunch to travel directly the UAE on a charter plane and avoid missing any games. To accomplish that, the CPL would need Cricket West Indies to potentially tweak the itinerary for the home series against Pakistan.
Pakistan's Caribbean tour, comprising five T20s and two Tests is scheduled to begin from July 28, four days after the West Indies' home series against Australia ends. After the five T20s finish on August 3 in Guyana, West Indies and Pakistan play two Tests in Jamaica between August 12-16 and 20-24.
England player availability
Virtually the entire first-team of England's white-ball squad also features on the first XIs of IPL teams. This includes: England captain Eoin Morgan (Knight Riders), Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer (all Rajasthan Royals), Johnny Bairstow and Jason Roy (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Sam Curran, Moeen Ali (both Super Kings), Chris Woakes, Tom Curran (both Capitals). However most of these players are likely to miss the remainder of the IPL with ECB's director of cricket Ashley Giles recently indicating England players' priority would be the bilateral series scheduled to played immediately after the India Test series and before the T20 World Cup.
England are scheduled to play a white-ball series in Bangladesh followed by two ODIs in Pakistan, with both these series planned between late September and mid-October. Other than England, New Zealand are also scheduled to play a white-ball series in September-October in Pakistan while Afghanistan are hosting Pakistan in the UAE in September for a white-ball series.
Bubble to bubble transfer
In 2020, players moved between tournament bubbles from CPL and the England-Australia white-ball series. Both sets of players flew on a charter flight directly to the UAE: those that went to Abu Dhabi, where their IPL teams were staying, had to spend a week in quarantine while those joining their teams in Dubai were allowed to start training straightaway after clearing the testing.
With the pandemic evolving rapidly across the world, existing rules at the time would determine the quarantine norms set by the UAE government for members of the IPL teams who would be travelling from several different countries including India. The challenge then for the BCCI would be to assemble teams in time for them to undergo the required quarantine before being eligible to play.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo