IPL: Desperate BCCI request England board to juggle Test series dates

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The IPL 2021 could complete 29 matches before it had to be suspended after Covid cases were reported in teams. Image Credit: Sportzpics

Kolkata: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), who had been counting their losses (which will be to the tune of Dh one billion) ever since the IPL had been suspended on May 4 due to sudden Covid cases among players and support staff, are now desperate to create a window in September to play the remaining 29 matches in England.

A media report says that the BCCI has requested the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to advance the start of the five-match Test series between England and India by a week so that a window could be created in September to finish the postponed Indian Premier League (IPL) season. The current schedule has the first Test beginning in Trent Bridge on August 4, which means the Indian team has an inordinate break of six weeks after the conclusion of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand on June 22.

The BCCI hopes that a three-week window would be sufficient to hold the remaining IPL 31 games if the final Test concludes on September 7 instead of 14, though discussions are in such a nascent stage that no official comment is forthcoming from either Indian or England boards.

The lucrative prospect of hosting the world’s biggest T20 franchise league never finds itself short of takers, with Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), the governing body of UAE, also ready to play hosts on either side of the T20 World Cup – should the International Cricket Council (ICC) host the showpiece there in view of the uncertainty prevailing in India with the pandemic.

Barely a few days after the suspension of IPL, a number of English counties had offered to host the remainder of the IPL 2021 season in September. The MCC, Surrey and Warwickshire, who are based at Lord’s, The Kia Oval (both London) and Edgbaston (Birmingham), were reported to be part of the group who wrote to the ECB inviting them to extend the opportunity to the BCCI.

It is learnt that the BCCI are planning to include several double-headers to finish the IPL before the teams start arriving in India for the ICC T20 World Cup, which begins on October 18. India are still hopeful of hosting the World T20 as scheduled later this year across nine cities and will want to keep the option open for now, though the ICC has kept the UAE as a Plan B.

The international cricketing fraternity, meanwhile, are quite cagey of travelling about travelling to India until the scar of the pandemic subsides substantially over the next few months. “I think they’ll have to look some pretty big contingency plans, perhaps looking at the UAE or somewhere like that that could host the World T20. I think there will be a lot of cricket boards around the world that’d be pretty nervous about going back to India for a cricket tournament,” remarked Michael Hussey, former Australian player and now a batting coach of Chennai Super Kings.