Why does the BCCI refuse to be honest about switching IPL to UAE?

On May 9, we reviewed the potential options for continuing in the IPL in September. Considering beach, desert or cobbled streets, Sri Lanka, the UAE and the UK all had points in their favour for the BCCI in considering where the troubled and bubbled tournament should conclude.

Guerilla Cricket expected the desert sun to win the day over the English rain and that England would conclude its county championship undisturbed, with the hardy likes of Darren Stevens and Tim Murtagh seaming and swinging their way through the damp and drizzle, rather than Jasprit Bumrah or Yuzvendra Chahal.

It seems we were pretty much spot-on too, as at the recently-held SGM, the BCCI confirmed that the remainder will take place in the UAE between September and October.

BCCI secretary Jay Shah has now revealed the reason behind moving it there saying the call was taken due to weather restrictions. In this case, he’s thinking Indian monsoons, rather than Manchester drizzle.

“We took this decision to conduct IPL in the UAE because it will be monsoon here [in India] and it will not be feasible to hold matches here in September.

“How can we hold IPL in September in Mumbai or Ahmedabad, or any other venues, at the time of monsoon? It doesn’t make any sense”, he added.

What seems remarkable though, is the rationale given for the switch to the UAE is based on weather practicalities rather than the fact that India’s second wave of Covid-19 that has claimed over 140,000 lives since April and overwhelmed the healthcare system, leaving hospitals struggling to cope, with critical drugs and oxygen in short supply.

The Covid-19 surge is a national tragedy—among the worst in India’s 74-year history as an independent country. Daily new cases have fallen since early May, but Indian journalists digging through records and crisscrossing the hinterland are uncovering evidence of deaths many times greater than government figures show.

There is a very real question, one debated many times by Guerilla Cricket, as to the significance of the IPL and its conclusion, given the scale of India’s tragedy.

But it seems money must be made, contracts must be honoured and the show, even though now surely just an almost irrelevant sideline, must go on. The BCCI has yet to decide on the fate of the upcoming T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in India later this year. Since the country is facing the Covid-19 outbreak, there is a real possibility that the global showpiece event won’t take place in India. In that situation, UAE looks like a strong candidate to stage the mega-tournament.

More will undoubtedly follow on this too, but it is understood that even the BCCI is jittery about holding the 16-team event in October-November acknowledging that none of the participating teams would be “comfortable” going to India when “a third wave” of Covid is feared.

Surely, common sense must prevail over the pursuit of cricketing mammon for the BCCI. One can only hope so.

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