Unlike IPL, some domestic cricket tournaments likely to face axe amid COVID-19 outbreak
The domestic season, which usually begins around late September, might start in mid-December unless the situation caused by the pandemic improves. This means the BCCI has to cancel a few tournaments.
CHENNAI: Delaying the domestic season, reworking the Future Tours Programme (FTP) of the India men and women’s teams, narrowing in on a window and venue for IPL and tax exemption for ICC events in India are some of the decisions to be taken at the BCCI’s virtual Apex Council meeting on Friday.
While much attention will be on the IPL, it is learnt that a decision on the tournament will be taken only next week, after the International Cricket Council’s Board meeting on Monday. The FTP will see a few changes. There are chances that the five-Test series against England in February-March will be reduced to three, in order to accommodate more limited-over fixtures.
Unlike the golden goose, IPL, which the BCCI is in no mood to scrap this year, India’s domestic tournaments are set to take a hit. It is understood that the domestic season, which usually begins around late September, might start in mid-December unless the situation caused by the pandemic improves.
Mid-December means the BCCI has to cancel a few tournaments. Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Irani Cup are unlikely to find space. The priority will be the Ranji Trophy. In the women’s section, there are chances that only a Challenger Series (50-over games) will be held.
The BCCI has prepared a few scenarios with regards to the Ranji Trophy, the only first-class tournament, in a truncated calendar. A decision on the structure is likely in the coming weeks. A zone-based league before knockouts is favoured by many because it reduces travel. But there are some drawbacks with this when it comes to the Plate division since the teams are scattered geographically.
Considering that officials are looking at mid-December to start Rani Trophy and IPL 2021 will be scheduled from March, time will be a problem for the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-over games). There are indications that this tournament will not be conducted this season. If time permits, the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s will get preference, keeping in mind the 2021 T20 World Cup. Even that will be difficult unless Ranji Trophy matches are reduced.
Age-group tournaments Cooch Behar Trophy (U-19) and Vijay Merchant Trophy (U-16) are unlikely, given the risk factor.
In the women’s section, a 50-over Challenger Series may be held as there is a World Cup in this format scheduled in February-March. The BCCI believes a tournament featuring around 45 players will be more useful than regular tournaments. Junior events are unlikely.
World Cup tax thorn
Although the BCCI has time till December 31 to secure tax exemption for ICC events, there are indications that the government will agree only to partial relaxation. Since the ICC has said the 2021 T20 World Cup and 2023 50-over World Cups can be moved out of India if tax exemption is not granted, the BCCI is making alternative plans.
Sources indicated that the BCCI might ask ICC to allow some in-stadia ads that don’t clash with the global body’s partners. If approved, the BCCI wants to use that money to compensate the ICC for the taxes paid.