World Cup-winning off-spinner and Chennai Super Kings star Harbhajan Singh said saving lives should be priority in the time of the Covid-19 crisis and Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 should be held only when the safety of players and stakeholders are assured.
Harbhajan Singh, speaking at Salaam Cricket said, he wishes to wear yellow this year and that it doesn’t matter if the IPL 2020 considering safety and health in the wake of the pandemic.
“I really want the IPL to happen but only when things are safe not just for me but for everybody associated with the tournament. There are about 200-300 people on the ground whenever a match is played and we need to take care of the safety of everybody present.
“Even if there is a 1% chance of the threat of spreading Covid-19 from one of us then IPL should be further postponed. It’s not an issue even if the IPL doesn’t happen this year. Saving lives is most important and if the virus spreads through the IPL then the tournament shouldn’t happen. If things are safe then it will be great to wear the yellow jersey again and get back on the field,” Harbhajan Singh said.
IPL 2020 has been suspended until further notice by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the IPL missed the April-May deadline, the cricket board is now hopeful of hosting the tournament later this year.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, in a letter addressed to stakeholders and state associations earlier this week, said the apex body is hopeful and look at all possible options to stage IPL 2020.
The BCCI is hoping to host the IPL if the International Cricket Council (ICC) postpones the T20 World Cup scheduled to be held in October-November in Australia.
IPL governing council chairman Brijesh Patel told indiatoday.in that the BCCI is working towards hosting IPL in September-October and India is the first preference as host nation. BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal also told this website that the board is assessing options to host the IPL if the ICC postpones the T20 World Cup.
One mistake can cost lives: Raina
Chennai Super Kings vice-captain Suresh Raina agreed with Harbhajan Singh, saying one mistake can cost lives and thus the organisers should adopt a careful approach when planning for IPL 2020.
“Agree with Bhajji paa. It will be the first time that we will be playing without fans, foreign players will come from abroad, camerapersons will be there, shoot commitments will also be there,” Raina said.
“Till the time the players are not safe… Cricket is an outdoor sport so if someone like Bhajji pa is following the guidelines, it will also be my responsibility to follow them as well. One mistake can cost lives which will be very disappointing. We need to be very careful in whatever we decide to do now.”
Meanwhile, Sunil Gavaskar, speaking at Salaam Cricket, said a shortened tournament will be feasible, considering the restrictions and safety protocols in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If the IPL is held in Sri Lanka from September then it might be possible. If you play somewhere overseas then the home and away factor won’t be there. So instead of the 14 matches per team, the tournament will be reduced to maybe 7 matches per team. That might be possible and only then maybe the IPL can happen. Then we can have IPL in September-October, not in India because there can be monsoon at that time. Maybe, Sri Lanka or UAE can host the IPL,” Sunil Gavaskar said.