The IPL has had its fair share of scandals and allegations. But none come close to the muddy waters it finds itself in currently.
- The Indian Premier League 2021 has been dogged by a slew of coronavirus cases.
- 11 players have pulled out midway through the tournament, citing different reasons but all connected to Covid-19.
- The Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) is in the line of fire amid growing concerns and criticism over continuing the tournament amid the rampaging second Covid-19 wave.
Last year the Indian Premier Leader (IPL) was held in UAE amidst a lot of rumors and controversies. There was widespread criticism over the event going ahead in middle of the lockdown. Dubai, being a tourist destination, needed something like the IPL to get tourists to start coming back. With the decision to have the IPL in India where Covid-19 cases have jumped to a new high beating all past records, BCCI‘s priorities have been called into question. Furthermore, having players from overseas come to India and potentially bring new variants of the virus is an absurd decision taken by the board.
The world’s richest Twenty20 League has been dogged by a slew of coronavirus cases.
Over the last week, players, support staff and grounds men have tested positive across venues. Players like Axar Patel, Nitish Rana and Anrich Nortje have tested positive. The virus has spread to even the coaching staff like ex-Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More. Moreover, players have already been unable to cope up in the Bio Bubble. They do not have access to people outside the bubble and even cricketers like Indian captain Virat Kohli have voiced their concerns about the mental toll that the current situation is taking on the players.
The “Festival” of Cricket
The 2021 edition of the IPL ticked off after months of speculation amid fears of Covid-19. Cricket unites the culture and the nation like nothing else. IPL is India’s most popular sporting event that throws exciting and energetic moments together, creating some fantastic cricketing memories. Live cricket action creates a flow for all the viewership. Fans were expected to be much higher, both on air and through digital streaming. Stuck at home, many fans desperately look for such live action to bring some excitement to life. But to some others, its a distraction from the real issue at hand.
IPL’s crowd-pulling potential has gone through the test of time. Every year we see viewership records breaking. In fact, it does not come as a surprise that the IPL is still taking in India, amid a brutal second Covid-19 wave that’s killing thousands everyday.
The 14th edition of the IPL is being played at Indian six venues, behind closed doors, and will continue till 30th May. Despite the arrangements, the bio bubble has pushed many players to the edge. International players, overseas power-hitters, all-rounders, and fast bowlers, usually thronging in high demand for IPL teams are unsure if they should stay put. Australian players like Andrew Tye of Rajasthan Royals and the duo of Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa of Royal Challengers Bangalore decided to part ways fearing the growing restrictions on travel back from India to their countries.
11 Players who withdrew from IPL 2021
While Zampa and Richardson have not yet spoken about their “personal reasons” for leaving, Tye has openly said that he feared getting locked out of his own country owing to mounting quarantine cases from India in his hometown Perth. Pat Cummins and few teams like Kolkata Knight Riders have recently donated to the PM Cares fund that was established last year to fight the Covid-19 outbreak.
Currently, there are about 35 per cent of IPL players as well as production crew comes from outside India. Ravichandran Ashwin, ace spinner has decided to cut short his IPL to support his family in the fight against Covid-19.
BCCI on the Backfoot
The prevailing Covid-19 crisis in India has prompted many voices from around the world to ask serious questions on why the tournament is happening at this time. From Piers Morgan to Gary Lineker and even several publications from all over. There’s also speculation that the BCCI might be contemplating shifting the IPL to the UAE for the rest of the season or postponing the rest of the edition. While a few feel it should not continue, a section believes the IPL is a happy distraction.
During the second wave this pandemic season, India has recorded more than a million Covid-19 cases in the last few days. Ambulances, medical oxygen, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and life-saving medicines are all in short supply. Although, the decision to the IPL continue or not rests solely with the BCCI, the apex cricket control body of India is certainly playing on the back foot this time.