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BCCI SGM: Board to officially lock in IPL window; Ranji compensation could come up informally

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The BCCI will be discussing a host of topics on Saturday (May 29) in the Special General Meeting (SGM).

The BCCI’s SGM on Saturday is likely to formalise the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a back-up venue for the ICC T20 World Cup, to be held later this year. The members will also discuss the resumption of the Indian Premier League (IPL), although availability of the foreign players remains a concern.

The agenda of the meeting is “discussing on the upcoming cricket season in the view of pandemic prevailing in India”.

The wider scope of the agenda permits the members to also discuss the ICC T20 World Cup and the much-delayed compensation package for domestic cricketers for the cancelled last Ranji Trophy season.

BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is expected to chair Saturday’s meeting from Mumbai. The IPL 2021 is expected to restart between September 18 and 20 and end on October 10 with three venues in the UAE, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah hosting the matches.

“Obviously, the main issue would be the IPL schedule. We are expecting 10 double-headers and seven single headers apart from four play-off games (2 qualifiers, one eliminator) including the final. The resumption game and final will be held on weekends,”

a senior BCCI official told PTI on the eve of the meeting.

As things look now, the competition will run from September 19 to October 10. The remaining 31 matches of IPL 2021 will be split into 10 double headers, 7 single headers, and 4 playoffs, which will be fit into the 21-day window the BCCI hopes to create before the ICC T20 World Cup.

The availability of Windies and South African players will also be discussed with the Caribbean Premier League being played simultaneously. ECB has already announced that they will not allow their players to play in the second half of the IPL. Many of the Australian players too might be unavailable for IPL 2021 2.0.

“England Cricket Board director of cricket Ashley Giles has already said that England players won’t be allowed to play IPL as they would follow the international commitments ahead of ICC T20 World Cup.

“Hopefully, the president and secretary would tell us how the situation of English players will be handled,” a franchise official, who would be tracking the developments, told PTI.

The likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes (if fit), Jofra Archer (if fit), Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali are all first team players for their franchises and getting their replacements won’t be easy.

The organisation of the T20 World Cup is expected to be the top item on the agenda. India is the host nation of the 2021 T20 World Cup and the tournament is scheduled to be played from mid-October to mid-November.

The BCCI, for the time being, will not give up on hosting the T20 World Cup in India but with a third wave of Covid-19 predicted during that time of the year, the chances of the global event being shifted to the UAE are high.

There is a possibility that pitches would tire out but then a full IPL in UAE would have meant 60 games.
So even if World T20 is held, during the final phase of IPL, the ICC could ask the Emirates Cricket Board and the BCCI to at least hand over two of the three grounds for the global event. One ground would be used for the business end of the tournament.

“If we are not able to hold an eight team IPL in India during September and October, how come we will have foolproof arrangement for a 16-team T20 World Cup in India with nine cities?” a Board official asked.

“The bubble breach in IPL happened only when air travel started. I guess it will take another month or two before we can conclude what’s happening,” he said.

The BCCI has already chosen UAE as the back-up venue, but it needs to be ratified by the members. According to sources, the BCCI is unlikely to make an official announcement tomorrow as regards to the shifting out of the ICC event to UAE. It would rather play a waiting game, keeping an eye on the evolving Covid situation in the country. The Indian board, in fact, can stretch it until mid-August before taking a final call.

India were to play New Zealand and South Africa in a bilateral series during September-October. The IPL 2021 being played during that time will make the BCCI to rethink the bilateral ties as well.

Domestic cricket allows a lot of uncapped and non-regular players to get some much-needed income in these tough times. The BCCI will also need to think about restarting the different domestic tournaments like the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. As per reports, the domestic players are yet to get their 2019-20 dues.

While BCCI had agreed to a compensation package in January last year but the formula to distribute the package is yet to be worked out.

“Only 73 uncapped domestic cricketers currently have IPL contracts. Playing Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy (Rs 35k per match) can’t make up for the financial losses that these players suffered,” a state unit official said.

“I guess the most feasible solution would be to hand over a lump sum compensation package to the state units and they would accordingly distribute among their players as per their roster from previous season,’ the senior official said.

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