CHENNAI: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will leave it to the franchises to decide with regards to players and support staff bringing their families along for the IPL, which is scheduled to begin in United Arab Emirates (UAE) on September 19 pending government approval.
Apart from a couple of franchises, it is understood that others are not keen on families being on tour given the risk factor involved. Chennai Super Kings have already made the decision to only take the players, support staff and franchise officials for the tournament, which will last 51 days. The franchise could end up being one of the first ones to touch base in UAE as it plans to be there by no later than August 12.
The three-time champions will be flying out of Chennai as they are in talks with a private carrier for a charter flight. Franchises still have plenty of questions, which are left unanswered, but some of them have more or less decided on the protocols to be followed during the tournament. They expect the standard operating procedure (SOP), which will be shared after the IPL Governing Council meeting on Sunday, would help them finalise their plans and start visa procedures.
Most franchises are planning to leave as a group and it is understood that some of them have told players to take Covid-19 tests before they join the team in a city from where they intend to fly out. Then they will take another test, the result of which will be taken to the UAE, where they would be subjected to another test. Although Kings XI Punjab owner Ness Wadia wanted players to be tested every day, the BCCI has no such plans as it believes its SOP will address all the concerns.
However, the BCCI will tell the franchises to conduct a said number of tests, which would be mandatory and non-negotiable and will be followed by a medical team. Given the humongous contingent involved, the BCCI is clear about the need for transparency in protocols as it expects full co-operation from the franchises and other stakeholders with regards to keeping the bio-secure bubble closed.
Any individual who breaches the bio-secure bubble will be asked to self isolate as it doesn’t want Jofra Archer type of incident in the IPL as the risk factor will be far too many. Hence, the BCCI will arrange a programme for each franchise on dos and don’ts in a bio-secure bubble as it believes educating players will help a big deal in the smooth conduct of the tournament. In case franchises do allow players and support staff to bring their families, then the BCCI would place strict orders that they too will stay within the bubble.