In these uncertain times, one question has been on the lips of Indian Premier League (IPL) fans around the world: what will happen to the IPL now that coronavirus has hit us?
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the institution trying to answer that question. As they were only established in 2008, it’s difficult to predict what they’ll do based on the past – this is an unprecedented time for cricket as a whole, let alone the BCCI.
From the early signs, it would appear they are taking coronavirus and COVID-19 very seriously, beginning with the IPL being suspended until April 15th, 2020. But an extension to this ban could well occur unless the threat of the virus is curbed.
For now, the BCCI is looking at all available options for the 2020 IPL season. They recently held a meeting with representation from all eight IPL franchises, which resulted in around six propositions to help see out the 2020 IPL season. And some of them were pretty radical, too.
Here are some of the options the BCCI has suggested to help complete the 2020 IPL season:
1.Split the league up
Don’t worry – we’re not talking about dividing the IPL into an upper and lower division here. Instead, the eight IPL teams would be split into two groups of four. They would then play each other home and away, reducing the number of games to 28 with the playoffs.
Another fairly simple solution could be for each team to only play each other once, but this throws up its own problems. For instance, it wouldn’t be unfair for one team to enjoy home advantage with no away leg to come. Or, if the games were played at a neutral venue, how much of a toll would the added travel take on both the players and fans?
2. Change the dates
Why overcomplicate things? If we can’t play now, we can play later. That was the view of some at the BCCI meeting, anyway. Comparative to other leagues in world sport, the IPL season is fairly short – so even a few days could make a significant difference.
As it stands, the window has already been extended from May 29th to May 31st, with talk of an additional extension to June 7th. Of course, this may not be long enough if coronavirus continues to spread. Plus, players will need to consider the domino effect this will have on their international commitments.
It could be a battle of the fittest, with a couple of ideas which involve multiple games per day. From doubleheaders to three games per day, this year’s IPL season could come thick and fast in an effort to cram in as many games as possible. If it does go this way, you can expect some crazy results due to unparalleled fatigue, so check out the latest IPL match predictions to make sure you don’t miss out.
4.Close the doors
The health of cricket players and stadium staff are important, but the reality is that the fans are the ones most likely to spread coronavirus. If games are played behind closed doors, it will be much easier to avoid close contact between those in the stadium. Whichever direction the BCCI decides to head in, this option will remain a strong possibility.
It might be time to put rivalries aside, as ground sharing has been posited as a solution. All matches in the 2020 IPL season could be limited to as few as four stadiums, which would mean at least half the clubs not getting the opportunity to play at home for the entire season.