Exclusive: BCCI president, secretary will soon arrive in UAE for IPL, says Rajiv Shukla
The tournament schedule, according to Shukla, could be finalised after the BCCI meeting with the ECB
The Indian cricket board president Sourav Ganguly, secretary Jay Shah and the Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Brijesh Patel will be arriving in the UAE to lay the groundwork for the resumption of the lucrative T20 league here, the board vice president Rajiv Shukla said on Sunday.
The IPL 2021, which was suspended on May 4 after multiple positive cases in the bio-bubble, will resume in the UAE in September, the BCCI had announced on Saturday.
Now as part of the BCCI plan to hold talks with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) for the resumption of IPL, Shukla has already arrived in Dubai.
“I am already here. Now a team of BCCI office-bearers, president (Sourav Ganguly), secretary (Jay Shah) and the IPL chairman (Brijesh Patel) will be coming here in a couple of days,” Shukla told Khaleej Times.
The tournament schedule, according to Shukla, could be finalised after the BCCI meeting with the ECB.
“We will be having discussions with the cricket board here and the other authorities. And accordingly the schedule will be made, so the tournament happens in a very smooth manner as it happened here last year,” said Shukla, referring the IPL 2020 which was successfully hosted by the UAE behind closed doors.
Shukla said the UAE authorities would take the final decision on having spectators back in the stadiums when the 2021 edition of the tournament resumes.
The 29 completed matches were staged behind closed doors in India until the suspension of the league. And the BCCI will wait for the decision from the local authorities on whether to allow spectators for the remaining the 31 matches in the UAE.
“The only issue is about the spectators, whether they will allow the spectators or not. So we will talk to them about that. We will go by whatever UAE authorities decide,” Shukla said.
“If they say it’s with spectators, and certain percentage of spectators, we are fine. Or if they say without spectators, that is also fine with us. There is no problem.”
The BCCI is looking to resume the IPL on September 18, four days after the end of India’s last Test match (September 10-14) against England in Manchester.
The same bubble will be used while bringing the Indian team players to the UAE for the IPL. But the tournament in the UAE may not see some of the top international players, including England stars Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, due to their international commitments.
Shukla, though, said the tournament would go ahead with or without those global stars.
“We have discussed that (foreign players) issue also. Our main focus is on completing this edition of the IPL. It should not be left half way through. So whichever foreign players are available is fine. Whoever is not available, it is not going to stop us from hosting the tournament,” Shukla said.
“The Indian players are there, foreign players are there, but few foreign players will not be available. As I said, we have to complete our tournament.
“So the franchises will definitely look for other players. Whoever is available, we are going to have the tournament with them. That’s our policy.”
Shukla also informed that the BCCI would follow the protocols on vaccinating the players before the tournament resumes.
Several players of the Indian national team have already received the first dose of the vaccine, but it remains to be seen if the Indian domestic players will also be required to get the vaccine before the fly to the UAE.
“Whatever, Covid protocols (on vaccination) are required, we will be following those protocols, the Indian protocols as well as the UAE protocols,” Shukla said.
And the eight franchises, Shukla said, were pleased with the BCCI decision to bring the tournament to the UAE.
“They are all very happy. From day one, they have been backing the UAE. There were some media reports about England (hosting the remaining matches), but there’s a weather problem in England where it rains a lot,” he said.
“Also, we have got about 20 days to complete the tournament. Even if we start on September 19, by the 10th of October we have to finish it. Then there’s a T20 World Cup (October-November) also. So keeping the weather in mind and the top-class facilities, the UAE was the best option.”
Finally, Shukla confirmed that BCCI was still looking at the possibility of hosting the T20 World Cup this year in India and that the 16-team event would be moved to the UAE if there was no improvement in the pandemic situation.
“That issue also has been deliberated. Our first choice is India. So we will be seeking some time from the ICC, a month or so, to decide about it,” said Shukla.
“If towards the end of June or maybe, the first week of July, the situation is not good there (India), then obviously it (T20 World Cup) will come to the UAE.
“If the situation improves (in India) and we are able to host it, then we will be hosting there (in India).”
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