India’s cricket board remains optimistic about playing the lucrative IPL later this year, a team official told AFP Wednesday, as an extended national lockdown left the competition in limbo.
In line with other sports events worldwide, the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League, the world’s richest Twenty20 tournament, had already been pushed back from its original start date of March 29.
Officially it was postponed until Wednesday but with India and much of the world in lockdown, preventing players from travelling and fans attending matches, the tournament remains on hold.
After India extended the lockdown on Tuesday until May 3, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) told the eight franchises that the tournament has been deferred indefinitely.
“Yes, they have informed us that the IPL stands suspended for the moment,” a team official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“However it is said that they will find a window in the later end of the year to do it.”
Cricketer-turned-commentator VVS Laxman said the IPL should kick off the cricket calendar that includes the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October and November.
“I think some of the cricket boards will be encouraging the fact that IPL is a big tournament, and everyone acknowledges that,” Laxman, who is a mentor for IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad, told Indian broadcaster Star Sports.
“And just before the World Cup it will set the tone for a hectic cricket season. But I just hope that everything is normal, and no one is in danger. And once that happens, I am sure the IPL should kick off the cricket calendar.”
There was no announcement on the IPL’s future from the Indian board. At the weekend, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had shied away from giving a prediction.
“Practically speaking, when life has come to a standstill everywhere in the world, where does sport have a future in this?” he said.
The league is a huge revenue-earner for the BCCI and is estimated to generate more than $11 billion a year for the Indian economy.
Leading foreign players have been pushing for the IPL to take place, with Australia’s Steve Smith saying he hopes the league will be held “at some stage”.
The participation of the world’s top cricketers has attracted big money, such as Chinese mobile phone maker Vivo putting up $330 million to be the league’s top sponsor for 2018-2022.
Australian pace bowler Pat Cummins is the most expensive overseas star this year with Kolkata Knight Riders paying $2.17 million in the December auction for his services.
Former cricketers including England’s Kevin Pietersen have suggested the glitzy tournament be shortened from its normal eight-week duration and played behind closed doors.