BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal has revealed that the BCCI are eager to get both the domestic and international Indian cricketers vaccinated, as it would then allow the board to host tournaments outside the bubble. Dhumal also confirmed that IPL 2021 will almost certainly be held in India.
The BCCI, after months of delay, kick-started the 2020/21 domestic season with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy but earlier today it was confirmed that the board will be shelling the Ranji Trophy. The 50-over competition Vijay Hazare Trophy will be played instead, and a major reason behind the same is said to have been logistical complexities of hosting the four-day competition, in particular the improbable task of playing months of bio-bubble cricket across a dozen states or cities.
There is, however, an outside chance that cricket may do away with bio-bubbles should players get vaccinated, and BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal hinted that the board are planning to talk to the government regarding the same. India started it’s vaccine drive a fortnight ago but is, currently, only focusing on giving the vaccine shots - Covaxin or Covishield - to frontline workers and vulnerable persons.
"It is tough but at least this way we are getting to play. We are working on getting our players vaccinated,” Dhumal was quoted as saying by TOI.
"The government's directive is that frontline workers and the most vulnerable will be the first to get vaccinated, but we are in touch with the government to get our players vaccinated."
Dhumal also revealed that BCCI decided against hosting the Ranji Trophy as the board did not want to host two Ranji Trophy seasons in the span of six or seven months. The BCCI Treasurer added that doing away with the Ranji Trophy opened up avenues for the board to concentrate more on Women’s and age-group cricket.
"We took feedback from the players, selection committee, state associations. It was felt that 2020 is already gone and rather than having two Ranji events in the same calendar year, it is better to go for white-ball cricket.
"That way we could have something for junior cricket and women considering the importance of the Women's World Cup and U-19 World Cup next year. Rather than having one tournament, we thought of having events in different categories.”
The 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League was held in Dubai, owing to the grim Covid situation in India, but with things now looking better, Dhumal confirmed that BCCI are not even looking at a back-up and have zeroed in on India as the host country for IPL 2021. Dhumal also claimed that the board are looking at potentially hosting crowds at 20 or 25% capacity.
"We are working on having the IPL in India and we are hopeful that we would be able to organise it. We are not even thinking of a backup also at this point in time, we are wanting to do it here.
"India is probably safer than UAE at this point. Hopefully, the situation remains stable and keeps improving and we will have it here.
"We are very keen to have the crowds back. Surely, it won't be 100 percent capacity given the challenges, but we are looking at anywhere between 25-50 percent."