Rasesh Mandani | HT
The fresh set of guidelines issued by the home ministry on Saturday, which will follow lockdown 4.0, gives BCCI fresh hope its plan to stage IPL later is the year can be achieved. The guidelines for reopening of activities in three phases seem to point towards resumption of sporting activities in Phase 3.
“Based on assessment of the situation (Phase 3), dates for restarting following will be decided—international air travel of passengers, gymnasiums, swimming pools, social/political/sports/entertainment functions and large congregations,” reads the operative part of the MHA order related to sport.
The second phase of reopening is planned for July, and Phase 3 could kick in anytime after that. “It’s a positive. If international travel resumes, and sporting activities will be allowed, then we can plan for the future,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said.
BCCI has said it is not in a position to consider staging IPL until the monsoon ends. That is unlikely to be before late September. That would again leave the fate of IPL on the T20 World Cup scheduled in Australia for October-November being postponed. A decision on the postponement is expected to be taken by the ICC Board on June 10.
Staging a national camp for the players to allow them to return to peak fitness levels is some time away. India bowling coach Bharat Arun recently said the players would require six-eight weeks, as well as practice games, to become the well-oiled machines they were. “As far as getting a pool of players together for a camp, again we will have to wait for things to normalise further,” Dhumal said. “What we can have for now is individual players working in facilities in their respective cities, based on advice from state governments.”
Not many BCCI contracted cricketers have been lining up to use practice facilities close to their homes, barring net sessions by seamer Shardul Thakur, who stays in Palghar on the outskirts of Mumbai. India captain Virat Kohli, and Test and white-ball vice-captains Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, are all stuck in their homes in Mumbai, which is the worst virus-affected city in the country.
The Indian board’s operations team is the process of preparing Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for resumption of training in a bio-secure environment; this will be sent out to all state associations.