The Australian cricketing pair of Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson yesterday announced that they will be leaving India and their franchise IPL team Royal Challengers Bangalore, due to the surging second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, AJ Tye also left Rajasthan Royals and flew back to his country while Indian spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pulled out, citing he needs to be with his family during the fight with Covid.
“I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow. My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals” Ashwin tweeted.
I would be taking a break from this years IPL from tomorrow. My family and extended family are putting up a fight against #COVID19 and I want to support them during these tough times. I expect to return to play if things go in the right direction. Thank you @DelhiCapitals 🙏🙏
— Stay home stay safe! Take your vaccine🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) April 25, 2021
Now news reports have come suggesting that David Warner, Steve Smith and other Australian players, coaches and commentators (Ricky Ponting, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Michael Slater, Matthew Hayden etc.) will be deserting IPL and returning to Australia before the borders close as the Scott Morrison government prepares to take evasive actions.
Adam Zampa & Kane Richardson are returning to Australia for personal reasons and will be unavailable for the remainder of #IPL2021. Royal Challengers Bangalore management respects their decision and offers them complete support.#PlayBold #WeAreChallengers pic.twitter.com/NfzIOW5Pwl
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) April 26, 2021
Last year’s IPL was conducted in the UAE while cases were still comparatively low. However, with the case count consistently hitting the 3 lakh mark for the last few consecutive days, the healthcare infrastructure of India has nearly crippled. The dearth of oxygen supply and remdesivir medicines, in addition to the shortage of beds, has compounded the problems.
There have been calls raised that IPL should be shelved for the remainder of the season or if possible, postponed for later. The mass exodus of foreign players from the IPL can spell a death knell for the entire season as the team compositions would take a beating while the spectator’s interest will deteriorate simultaneously. Thus, it feels like the right call to shelve the season at this point and continue when things turn out better.
However, when asked if IPL would be cancelled, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly gave a straight reply “So far, it’s going on as scheduled.”
While it is understandable that people want an escape, away from the misery of the world, watching the 3-4 hour spectacle but those who have lost their beloved in China made COVID-19 pandemic and are still grieving will certainly not be liking such glitz served daily in atrocious quantities around them.
It wasn’t up until yesterday that IPL broadcasters took a stand and started issuing serious statements about the severity of the virus. Before that, it was all ornamental from the broadcasters and BCCI who mentioned the Covid in passing.
It felt like IPL was being conducted in a utopian world and that there was no pandemic wreaking havoc around. While patients were dying trying to find ambulances and beds, there were supporters of the respective franchises’ in the stands, enjoying with their masks down and rubbing into the miseries of the poor souls. Such insensitivity hurt a lot of viewers who preferred to turn their TV sets off.
It is perfectly understandable that rejigging the IPL schedule will offset the entire cricketing calendar but in times as unprecedented as these, it is the right moral call to take. Experts have cautioned that the peak of the second wave will be reached around the mid-May mark and with the IPL playoffs and final scheduled beyond that, it will be highly immoral to continue with the tournament when thousands will be dying.