To say that all is not well in the run-up to the IPL is putting it mildly. There are a number of issues, incidents, and problems that have cropped up with the result that things are certainly not in place and there are a lot of loose ends to be tied up.
First there was the incident of some players and support staff of the Chennai Super Kings testing positive for Covid-19. The pandemic was always going to be an issue with the UAE having active cases but with these being much less than in India the Middle East country seemed to be an acceptable venue. Then came the Suresh Raina episode which raised all sorts of doubts. Just as it threatened to snowball into a major issue both the key CSK batsman and the team owner N Srinivasan tried to play down the incident with a couple of conciliatory statements.
Soon after we had New Zealand captain Kane Williamson expressing his “apprehension ‘’ over the CSK players and support staff testing positive for Covid-19 even as he talked about having to be “extremely vigilant and disciplined’’. He was joined by Australian pace bowler Josh Hazlewood who admitted to being “concerned’’ at the developments surrounding the CSK franchise. Hazlewood in fact plays for CSK and is expected to join them from England where he is currently representing Australia in the limited-overs series there. Williamson is expected to link up with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
A couple of days later Mumbai Indians fast bowler Lasith Malinga pulled out of the IPL citing personal reasons. It has been reported that Malinga’s father has been ill and may require surgery in the coming weeks and he wanted to be with him in Sri Lanka. The latest to pull out is Australian fast bowler Kane Richardson who says he could not risk missing the birth of his first child while announcing his withdrawal from the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad.
As if all this is not enough the IPL has also been hit by the cold response from Elite Panel umpires ostensibly because of the Covid-19 situation. The BCCI was keen on roping in the services of a number of umpires from the Elite Panel but at the moment only three overseas umpires have agreed while others have turned down the request. There are usually around six Elite Panel umpires during an IPL season and the assumption was that there would be more such officials this season since there is no international cricket being played in the IPL window.
With just over a fortnight to go for the start of the IPL on September 19 the schedule involving 60 matches has not been drawn up yet. This was expected to be finalized by now.