Zaheer Abbas backs BCCI decision to stage IPL this year

Rituraj Borkakoty/Dubai
Filed on July 31, 2020
Legendary Pakistan batsman Zaheer Abbas also says he would never back ICC's plan to reduce Test matches to four days. (AP)

The Indian cricket board would have lost more than $500 million if the IPL, which was scheduled to start from March 29, was cancelled

Zaheer Abbas, the legendary Pakistan batsman who enthralled fans with expansive strokeplay in his heyday, says the explosion of T20 cricket has changed the game so much that the cricket boards are now desperate to stage their lucrative leagues even in the face of a pandemic.

The West Indies board have announced that the 2020 Caribbean Premier League would be staged next month behind closed doors at just two venues in Trinidad and Tobago.

And the delayed Indian Premier League (IPL), the richest of all cricket tournaments, will be held in the UAE from September 19 to November 8, pending government approval.

The Indian cricket board would have lost more than $500 million if the IPL, which was scheduled to start from March 29, was cancelled.

But the postponement of this year's T20 World Cup due to the travel restrictions in Australia gave the BCCI the perfect window to salvage the money-spinner.

"Every country likes to play T20 matches to make money. Every country, you know, I am not talking only about India, but all of us because there is so much money involved in these tournaments these days," Abbas told the Khaleej Times over the phone from London on Friday.

The former Pakistan captain admitted that the cricket boards' commitments with their sponsors and the broadcasters needed to be acknowledged as well as the financial health of the sport while debating the merits of hosting such events during a global health crisis.

"They (the cricket boards) have so much commitments which they have to fulfil. As you know, the teams coming from the West Indies and Pakistan to England for the Test series, they were in quarantine for some time and they (the West Indies and England) played without a crowd," said Abbas, referring to the recent England-West Indies Test series which marked the return of international cricket following the Covid-19 enforced break.

"So that's why I am saying that even in the current scenario, every cricket-playing country would like to make some money. For that matter, all the cricket playing countries have to help each other."

But Abbas, the former International Cricket Council (ICC) president, would never back the governing body's plan to reduce Test matches to four days.

"You know I played the traditional game and one-day cricket. What I believe is that, yes you sometimes get results in four days, but it doesn't mean that we have to make Test cricket a four-day format," Abbas said.

"I know most of the matches are finishing in four days these days, but you don't have to reduce it to four days just because of that. Sometimes the weather plays a part and the fifth day comes into play when it's raining and when bad light stops play, you can't get a result in four days.

"So I don't see a reason to change the traditional format of the game. You already have T20 cricket, you have the ODIs, so there is no need to change Test cricket!"


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