How rescheduled IPL jeopardises CWC Super League, T20 World Cup preparations of many countries
The Board of Control for Cricket in India was quick to announce the dates for the remainder of the Indian Premier League to be held in the United Arab Emirates. However, that poses a potent question on whether it will be as global a tournament as it is supposed to be, or will it be, to quote Wriddhiman Saha, “A star-studded version of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.” The rescheduling of the 14th season of the cash-rich league between September 19 and October 10 would mean that all the key foreign players would have to be rushed in from their national duties. And boards would not like it one bit as has been explicitly expressed by ECB’s Ashley Giles and subversively by New Zealand Cricket and Cricket Australia as well, the three nations with the most important players in the league. But what if players decided to abandon national teams and participate in the IPL? How will it hamper the country’s preparation for the T20 World Cup and furthermore the Cricket World Cup Super League, the primary qualifying tournament for the 2023 ODI World Cup to be held in India? The International Cricket Council's Future Tours Programme is a good place to make sense of these things and that's what we will do. We will try to understand, how does the IPL window effect other boards, and consequently the entire ecosystem of cricket till the 2023 ODI World Cup. England The English team is supposed to play Pakistan for two T20Is in October just ahead of the scheduled T20 World Cup dates and the ECB has also confirmed that the team would be touring Bangladesh for a limited over series in early October as well. This is clearly indicative of the fact that English players will not be available for the second leg of the IPL. However, if the likes of Ben Stokes, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Sam Curran do try to get in, it has been made highly unlikely by Managing Director of England Men’s team Ashley Giles. The former left-arm spinner said, “We are going to have to give some of these guys a break at some point. But the intention of giving guys a break for, say, Bangladesh, wouldn't be for them to go and play cricket elsewhere.” “We have to manage our schedule now, so we get our guys arriving in the best shape possible for the T20 World Cup and the Ashes," said Giles at the launch of IG as the new official partner of England Cricket. With this statement, he has made fully clear the intentions of ECB of not sending the players for IPL’s second leg. Australia The Australian players haven’t really had much time together with many of its key players not playing together. Just before the World Cup, the team planned a Tri-Series in UAE involving West Indies and Afganistan, although that has yet not been officialised. But if they anyhow do not play the series, the Aussie players would be available as they do not have any series lined up. The question here will be of either bubble fatigue running into a very hectic Australia summer or of preparation going into the T20 World Cup, a tournament the Kangaroos have not won since the inception of the competition. If Kolkata Knight Riders’ most expensive player Pat Cummins’ withdrawal from the second leg is any sign of things to come, then Cricket Australia might want to prioritise their campaign for the T20 World Cup. Thus if the Aussie players indeed go on to join the IPL campaign, they would be jeopardising their team’s training for the World Cup. New Zealand Although not confirmed, the Kiwis are scheduled to tour Bangladesh in the September-October period for limited-overs series which might involve CWC Super League matches as well as all-important T20Is. The BCB did confirm that both England and New Zealand would be touring and hence the availability of key Blackcaps for IPL looks slim. And again if IPL manages to lure them with money, then their World T20 campaign as well as chances of gaining 30 crucial points to their CWC Super league tally would get thin. However those series can be scheduled later, but in the post covid world, that is never guaranteed. West Indies Apart from these big three nations, the other team that would be heavily compromised on the practice and fatigue of the players will be the defending champions West Indies. The Kieron Pollard-led team will be playing back-to-back cricket starting June 26 when they play the first T20I against South Africa, up till September 18, the scheduled date for the Finals of the Caribbean Premier League’s 2021 edition. With such a heavy dose of cricket, if 31 games of IPL are squeezed in along with several bio-bubble transfers, Phil Simmons’ men wouldn’t be in the best of their selves to go for their title defence in October-November for sure, not to mention the tri-series with Afghanistan and Australia if it formulates at all. Bangladesh Although there are only two Bangladesh players signed in the IPL, those two are crucial members of both the national team and their respective franchise, hence their presence matters at both places. Bangladesh back-to-back host Australia, England, and New Zealand after having already had a busy season with the Dhaka Premier League and tour to Zimbabwe. The Bangladesh Cricket Board were already not happy with Shakib Al Hasan skipping the Sri Lanka Test series during the IPL and with CWC Super League points at stake, they would not be very happy if the players choose to prioritise their franchise commitents. Thus far, South Africa remains the only top country that wouldn’t have any fixtures scheduled during the IPL (given they are supposed to play India) and can afford to send players for the league. However, with BCCI seeking some more time to discuss the hosting of the T20 World Cup, chances are that the tournament might get moved a little further than the scheduled dates, in which case, it will solve many of the existing problems. But as things stand at the moment, the rescheduled IPL is certainly jeopardising the plans of many countries’ T20 World Cup campaign as well as messing with their CWC Super League’s points table.