In a cricket-crazy country, the IPL is the sporting opiate of the masses. Like a Virat Kohli cover drive, live sport in the time of the coronavirus lockdown would represent the finest entertainment to distract the people from the rigours of the current situation, which is akin to facing a barrage of bouncers on a fast cricket pitch. In fact IPL, cricket’s richest league, is still hanging on in the hope of holding at least a condensed 2020 season.
The IPL’s stand can be questioned on a moral plane at a time when life and livelihood is threatened. But it has a right to keep its options open, as it has done now too in putting off IPL’s season 13 rather than abandoning it. To imagine finding even a smaller window in the remainder of the year is not impractical. Why, US president Donald Trump too is convinced that people should have their sport sooner as he hopes to drive his country towards a post-Covid normality by May 1.
The greatest difficulty facing the cricket league valued at Rs 47,500 crore is to find a window of opportunity despite the cricket calendar being empty now with England unable to enjoy its summer sport. There is an Asia Cup to be held possibly in the UAE in September and the World Cup T20 (October-November) in Australia, a country somewhat less affected by the coronavirus, with 6,464 cases and 63 deaths and then a tour of Australia by Team India.
To forgo multilateral events like Asia Cup and T20 World Cup and hold the IPL would be too selfish an act. No IPL crorepati is going to starve to death if the event is not held. The IPL may be cash-rich but it cannot be morally bankrupt. The best BCCI can do is to pray for the virus to peak by summer so that August-September dates can be explored. It would be great to watch live sport and cricket without spectators at the stadium is not an impossible proposition.