There was a murmur that the players were finding it difficult to concentrate and spoke openly when they returned home.
The IPL was empowered to shut down – if delayed – the decision, even if the Board of Control for Cricket in India had developed rapidly, exposing the players when the bio-bubble had breached, technically, the safest Real estate in the country.
Players from the three franchises tested positive, matches had to be rescheduled, and the locations chosen had some of the highest cases of COVIDs in India. There were also grumbling players finding it difficult to concentrate on the games or motivating themselves, and spoke openly about returning home. It would have been surprising if it were otherwise.
These are difficult times, and the BCCI ultimately did well to reduce its losses and do humanitarian work. I suspect that this may not be a popular decision among hardcore fans, given some reaction to this column last week that I suggested discontinuing the IPL.
Cricket cannot remain untouched by the events around it. The ‘distraction’ argument given by many people does not work when the distraction providers themselves fall ill. One year from now, five years, ten years later, this break will not matter at all.
The game is trivial, almost trivial at a time like this. It is not the end of the world if the cricket tournament is called off at the halfway point. To continue this when nearly half a million Indians are contracting the COVID virus every day and the death count is growing alarmingly, which is disgraceful and dangerous for those playing.
There is a point in every crisis when quick decisions and fast steps prevent it from slipping into catastrophe. What works against making such decisions is usually arrogance, and determination to prove that the original decisions were correct.
Gresham’s rule (“bad money drive is good”) operates even in poor decision making. Bad decisions are made, reducing space for good people. This happened at the national level when we were asked to believe that the epidemic was over and that governments had done little to prepare for the second wave of prophecy.
To estimate normalcy
If the BCCI wanted to make everything in India a laughing stock, it could not play the tournament in the UAE, as it did last year. It would have been safe in a small country, where most citizens were vaccinated. (Cricket) The desire to show the world that India can host the World T20 in October may also be a factor.
But the BCCI may have withdrawn its hand. And almost had to pay the price. Uncertainty and alarm in the IPL reflected uncertainty and alarm across the country. It is little consolation that the game reflects society as its reputation.
In the end, the BCCI fixed it, and now has to deal with the dismantling of operations. The stakes are not redundant. In the life versus livelihood debate, it was weighed in favor of life, which for a long time seemed unaffected, involving huge sums of money. Matched only by the giant Egos.
However, the decision comes with its own strange problems. In the short term, it is a question of ensuring that all players return home safely.
This would include dealing with the governments of countries such as England, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, which have banned flights from India and enacted stringent quarantine rules in place.
Then there is the matter of sorting sponsorship, television rights and other deals for the sponsor season to ensure that future tournaments are not harmed. It will be as much about diplomacy and tact as it is about reminding actors who are bosses, a strategy that is at the bottom of many of the BCCI’s recent successes.
A week ago, BCCI interim CEO Hemang Amin had sent an email to the franchisee stating three important things. One, that they were completely safe in bubbles.
Two, that they were playing not just for winning, but for humanity. And three, that the BCCI will do everything to ensure that they can reach their homes safely.
The first two became Mirage. But he could regain some lost face by taking the third as true.