IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE suspension of the Indian Premier League, with the BCCI having had time to introspect, board president Sourav Ganguly has admitted that "travelling between cities could have caused the breach in the IPL's biosecure bubble".
Speaking to Telegraph India, Ganguly also said that the BCCI will look at creating a window for the remainder of IPL 2021 ahead of this year's T20 World Cup, scheduled for October-November.
That is easier considered than delivered though, as former England captain Michael Atherton has pointed out.
"It is a logistical challenge. The IPL not only has a high number of domestic Indian players, but players from all around the world," Atherton told UK's Sky Sports.
"The IPL is obviously worth a lot of money to the global game - I think it brings in a third of the game's global revenue - so people will be keen to see it staged, but the logistics are very tricky for the tournament now."
Atherton's views make sense. And India's tour itinerary leading up to the World T20 in October brings that truth into stark relief. India tour England for the Word Test Championship final in June, followed by a five-Test series. India host New Zealand a little before the T20 World Cup, followed by the ICC event itself.
The only available slot for the board to stage the remainder of the IPL is just before or after the T20 World Cup, but questions over the participation of overseas players, it may take quite a bit of an effort for the board to complete this year's IPL even if it is stages outside in the UAE.
"I just don't see where the gap [in the schedule] is. India come to England for five Test matches in the summer - and that ends around mid-September. Then the T20 World Cup, which is supposed to be in India - but who knows, they may have to move that tournament to the UAE - takes place in mid-October," said Atherton.
"There is maybe a gap there, but all countries will already have their pre-T20 World Cup preparations baked in now - England are due to go to Bangladesh and Pakistan, for example - and you're also asking India's players, who have spent long, long periods inside these bubbles, and then asking them to spend more time in one, it seems hard to me."
Ganguly, too, sounded more hopeful that convinced about the feasibility of holding the IPL remainder just before the World T20 in October. “There has got to be a lot of shuffling. Only a day has passed since we suspended the IPL. We have to speak to other boards and see if a window can be made available before the T20 World Cup... Lot of things are involved and we will slowly start working on them,” Ganguly told Telegraph India.
Having said that, what is clear is that BCCI's desperation to finish the remainder of the IPL in times as extraordinary as what the country is facing currently can be put down to financial implications more than anything else.
As Ganguly told the daily, “If we fail to complete the IPL, the loss will be close to Rs 2,500 crore (Rs 25 billion). That is going by early estimates.”
SportzPower would argue though, that the prism through which the richest cricket board in the world is viewing the matter is all wrong. The fact remains that any loss is notional. Host broadcaster Star India has already paid the 50% of the IPL media rights fee (roughly Rs 15.8 billion) for the year and since only 29 matches have been played (of the 60 if the tournament had completed its 2021 innings), the BCCI is effectively sitting on 1 game's media rights fee.
The same logic of reasoning applies for all the central sponsors. 50% from the central sponsors would already have come in to the the BCCI's coffers.
So just what is the total income expected from all vendors if a full 60 games were to be played? In the Rs 44 billion ball park, is the number SportzPower has been given. Ergo, with 29 games having been played, Rs 22 odd billion is what would be on the BCCI's credit side for this year's IPL.
You get paid for what you deliver. No one can argue that BCCI should be paid Rs 44 odd billion when only 29 games of the IPL have been played. So in reality, no one's at a loss at this stage.
Star-Disney on-air sponsor agreements
There are also questions around the on-air sponsor deals that IPL host broadcaster Star Disney had struck ahead of the tournament kick-off. By all accounts, the network had locked in 90-95% of on-air inventory by the time the IPL got into "play" mode.
As for what gives now, it is reasonable to assume that the sponsorhip contracts struck by Star Disney would involved 50% advance payment and 50% after the end of the IPL. So again, there is no loss and no gain on either the buyers' side (advertisers) or the seller's side (Star Disney).
This essentially means that if the IPL completes its 2021 innings, the balance sponsorship payments will be made to Star Disney. If not, all parties are "square".
Coming back to the BCCI, what the Indian cricket board should really be focused on is the ICC World T20, scheduled to be played in India in mid-October. As Wednesday's Indian Express editorial notes: "The BCCI should firm up their dos and don’ts based on this IPL experience. Avoiding COVID-19 hotbeds across the country and restricting the travel of teams are pointers.
"They also need to lean heavily on credible medical inputs before sending out invitations around the world. They need to have Plan B (at the very least) in place."
SportzPower believes that BCCI should NOT be sending out any invitations at all. India's COVID problem is nowhere near even a semblance of resolution anytime soon so the focus should shift to how best to deliver that World T20. And it should be in the UAE. And if in that process the IPL could also be completed, well and good (though SportzPower would argue against it)!