Veteran opener Abhinav Mukund is of the opinion that it would be next to impossible for the BCCI to create a secure bio-bubble and host the domestic season which will oversee the participation of a staggering 38 teams. Mukund also batted for state contracts for players to ensure financial security.
While the BCCI have successfully managed to do everything in their power to ensure that the Indian Premier League, the board’s biggest source of income, takes place, the challenge of hosting a domestic season, for the board, will be completely different altogether, if not a hundred times more rigorous. Thanks to India - by some distance - overseeing the most number of domestic teams amongst all countries, even hosting a truncated domestic season in a ‘safe environment’ will require the board to put in the gargantuan effort - in terms of planning, finances, personnel - and even that, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 situation in the country, might not ensure a fool-proof environment.
One amongst thousands of domestic cricketers who have been hit by the pandemic, Tamil Nadu’s Abhinav Mukund has weighed in on the challenge of hosting a domestic season in the months to come and believes that organizing the same will be a next-to-impossible task. Mukund, who is currently in a bio-bubble in Mumbai alongside fellow Tamil commentators, reckons that it won’t be practical to accommodate a plethora of individuals inside a bio-bubble, which will be the challenge for the board should it decide to go ahead with the season.
“It's going to be a massive challenge to organise a tournament where 30-odd teams (38 teams) are involved. I understand it a lot more now because I'm part of a bio-bubble Star [host broadcasters of IPL 2020] have put in place in Mumbai for the commentators. It's very difficult to organise something where everyone, including the groundsmen, scorers, referees, umpires, has to be in a bubble,” Mukund told ESPN Cricinfo.
“It's going to be financially taxing on anyone trying to do this. I don't see the domestic competitions happening in one place like the IPL is. So yes [if the season doesn't happen or is truncated], the financial implications will be huge for players who don't play in the IPL since it is the primary source of income for a lot of us.”
Should the domestic season get shelled, the financial ramifications of such a move could be catastrophic for a ton of cricketers, whose primary - and in some cases, the only source of income is their match fees in domestic cricket. The players are currently paid on a pay-per-appearance basis but Mukund has called for the introduction of state contracts to ensure better financial security.
“Cricketers in England or Australia, for example, have state contracts, but that isn't the case with us. This [forced break] will bring about the topic of contracts for domestic cricketers. But I know it's very difficult to give contracts in the current environment.”
Mukund, now a 13-year veteran on the domestic circuit, is one of the few lucky individuals who has a corporate job, but that is not the case with a vast majority of players, especially those who don’t have IPL contracts, who are solely reliant on the money they earn in domestic cricket. The 30-year-old noted that a state contract system, which is followed in countries like Australia and England, would do a world of good for loads of cricketers, who as things stand are set to suffer irreparable financial damage due to the pandemic. The veteran did, however, clarify that he is personally yet to take up with the issue with the TNCA and the BCCI.
“I haven't, particularly. Most of us in Chennai are lucky enough to get secure jobs with corporates. There's a good club culture and you're generally paid well, but it's not the same for players from other teams. It's just now that we've all been asked to raise invoices for the gross-revenue component of our payments for the 2016-17 season. It will come sooner or later is what we've been promised and it's something we're all looking forward to. But yes, if a contract system were to come into effect, it gives you accountability both from the player and association point of view.
“I'm not sure Australian or English cricketers are employed by corporates. They're all contracted to the association, a lot of them continue to work for the association after their careers. It gives you security. Normally for players who don't play in the IPL, some of them play club cricket in England or Bangladesh. This year, even that has been shut out because of the pandemic. So there is no income. So yes, we do have to end up looking back to our state associations to see if a contract system would ever materialise.”