A Different IPL This Time
The Indian Premier League (IPL) is undoubtedly one of the biggest cash-rich tournaments in the world today. And ever since its inception it has not only taken cricket to new levels but has also turned the lives of certain talented players - especially those from humble backgrounds.
This time around the cash-rich tournament will be conducted in a ‘Bio-safe’ environment in the United Arab Emirates across various cities from September 19 to November 10.
The last time the tournament was shifted from India was way back in 2009 when the Lok Sabha elections took place in India. It was due to the clash of dates; also various other factors resulted in the tournament being shifted.
As of now, a lot of tournaments have been conducted worldwide such as various bilateral cricket tournaments, or the recent FA cup which were conducted minus the crowds.
However, despite all kinds of tests and other protocols related to COVID, the manager of the winning team (Arsenal) of FA cup Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19. There were other players as well but the whole issue boils down to one simple thing: will it be safe to play the tournament?
The authorities are set to conduct two mandatory RT- PCR (Covid-19 tests) tests to ensure everyone’s safety - right from the players to the staff members, etc. But again, the misery of the organizers - Board of Cricket Control in Indian (BCCI) - does not end there In the wake of escalating tensions between India and China, the title sponsorship which was assigned to VIVO - a Chinese subsidiary company - is all set to be revoked and reports have it that is an investment worth a lot of crores of rupees.
So, just before the commencement of the tournament, there is already some amount of tension.
However, the BCCI President and former India skipper, Saurav Ganguly, has tried to pacify the situation by describing the whole incident as a blip or mere unexpected temporary deviation.
Hopefully, the tournament gets underway as it is not only important for revenue generation but otherwise a lot of people who are employed in broadcasting or satellite right ownership might lose out on their jobs which have been a recent trend during these COVID days. The glamorous tournament has a reputation for giving exposure to talent; however, there is a dark side attached to it as well. And that is match-fixing, gambling, etc.
The IPL betting scam which involved reputed national level cricketers like S. Sreesanth caught the public gaze in 2013. A lot of big names had come out like N. Srinivasan who was also holding the post of BCCI President back then, his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, etc.
Hence to bring an end to such shambolic incidents the Mudgal Committee was formed and Assam’s very own senior advocate and decorated member of the legal fraternity, Nilay Dutta, was a panel member of the committee. The committee had suggested various reforms such as the use of local language to sensitize the players. They also recommended changes in the way the investigative wing was to run. But the most important one was to legalize betting which the Lodha Committee and the Supreme Court also welcomed with open arms so as to do away with middleman mafias, bookies and adding to the GDP of the country, etc.
Subsequently, the Lodha Committee spearheaded by former Chief Justice of India Justice RM Lodha, was also welcomed by the Supreme Court of India. This time the problem might be dual which is corona and how to protect everyone associated with the tournament at least during the duration of the tournament and also the harsh weather conditions which cannot be ruled out. But there is another issue as well which is an issue related to match-fixing which was seen years back in infamous Sharjah (which is just 15 km away from Dubai) which led the Indian government to ban the venue and refrain the team from playing in such neutral venues for years. This episode was undeniably one of the darkest phases for Indian cricket.
Times have changed but reminiscences of the past are capable enough to raise a lot of eyebrows. The authorities will have to be on their toes to protect the players and others associated with the game from both corona and any form of such illegal activities. The vigilance has to be beefed up along with security.
But overall, the cash-rich tournament has always been good news for Assam as it has provided a platform to players such as Abu Nechim Ahmed and the young and extremely talented Riyan Parag who had made headlines for his all-round performances in the previous editions.
It will not be reasonable to defer the tournament any further and as they say, the show must go on. As for the issue related to the title sponsor, rumour has it that Baba Ramdev’s company Patanjali might just be a frontrunner.
(The author has completed graduation in law from National Law University and Judicial Academy Assam. He is currently practicing as an Advocate in Gauhati High Court. The views expressed in the article are his own.)
- Indian Premier League (IPL)
- IPL 2020