The star-studded Indian Premier League cricket will start on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates, its chairman said on Friday, adding that players may need to undergo quarantine.
Although India’s cricket authorities are still awaiting government approval, Brijesh Patel said the world’s richest cricket tournament will be played for 51 days with the final on November 8.
Under current UAE coronavirus rules, all travellers must self-isolate for two weeks after arriving. “Whatever are the UAE rules for tourists will be followed by everyone,” Patel said.
“The IPL will take place between September 19 to November 8. This is confirmed and the rest we will decide in the (IPL) governing council meeting next week.”
Top stars ranging from England’s Ben Stokes to Australians Steve Smith and David Warner have been lined up by the eight IPL teams on lucrative contracts. Any quarantine period could clash with domestic seasons.
Patel said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will prepare operating procedures to combat the virus threat during the tournament.
“It is going to be a full-fledged 51-day IPL. We are in touch with the ECB — Emirates Cricket Board. And we will get clearance from the Indian government soon,” he said.
The 13th year of the IPL was meant to have started in March but has been repeatedly postponed because of the pandemic. Dates were finally set after the T20 World Cup, which was scheduled to start in Australia in October, was postponed this week.
With the pandemic not expected to peak in India for several weeks, a tournament in India is considered too risky.
The IPL is the BCCI’s main revenue earner. It has said it would lose more than $500 million if this year’s tournament had not gone ahead.
The board is confident it can assemble stars from around the world to line up for the eight IPL teams from late September to early November. The UAE would be hosting the IPL for the second time in six years.
Patel would not say whether the games would be played behind closed doors. A final decision would rest with the UAE and Indian authorities.
The IPL has been held outside India twice before when it clashed with national elections. South Africa hosted the 2009 event and part of it was held in the UAE in 2014.
Australia’s Pat Cummins will be the most expensive overseas star this year. Kolkata Knight Riders agreed a $2.17 million fee for him in a December auction.
The IPL may clash with Australia’s Sheffield Shield and paceman Josh Hazlewood said it wouldn’t be easy to abandon the domestic tournament.
“IPL is such a huge part of the year for a lot of players and probably the strongest T20 competition in the world, up there with the Big Bash,” Hazlewood, who plays for Chennai Super Kings, told ESPNcricinfo.
“So if that takes a few games off us playing for New South Wales in the build-up to the international summer that’s a tough call.” — AFP
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