NASSER HUSSAIN: The mistake was organizing the IPL in India … it should have taken place in UAE

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NASSER HUSSAIN: The mistake was organizing the IPL in India in the first place … I will not criticize the players – and it had to be canceled – but it should have happened again in UAE

  • The players would have been fully aware of what is going on in India
  • Sometimes it hasn’t been very educational to watch this tournament when people die
  • We must not forget that the ECB offered competitions when our Covid rates were high

There was no other option than to call off the Indian Premier League. Not after the bio-safe bubbles had burst in so many places. Enough was enough. This has become much bigger than a game of cricket.

The players are not stupid or insensitive. They would have been fully aware of what is going on in India. They would have seen people on their TV begging for hospital beds and oxygen.

They would have seen unused ambulances waiting outside the cricket field and wondered if it was okay to keep playing. And they would have felt uncomfortable.

The IPL ‘decided unanimously’ to postpone the season after an increase in the number of coronavirus cases

So what has happened in the last few days has made a very difficult decision for them.

I have seen many people say, “Why are they playing on when the situation in India is so serious?” And I can see that position.

It has sometimes made no sense to watch this tournament when people are dying just steps away.

But we must remember that our Covid rates were high last summer and the ECB – with the help of the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia – set up international cricket.

During the pandemic, there has also been Premier League football and I have been grateful for that. It kept me going in lockdown at the end of many days to know there was a football game at the end.

And India really likes its cricket. It’s everything to their people and it has clearly brought a level of comfort or distraction from what has become a massive crisis. I don’t think we should lecture them about the rights and mistakes of playthrough.

Kolkata Knight Riders bowler Varun Chakravarthy is one of two of their players who tested positive for Covid-19 - forcing the postponement of Monday's game

Kolkata Knight Riders bowler Varun Chakravarthy is one of two of their players who tested positive for Covid-19 – forcing the postponement of Monday’s game

The mistake was made by holding the tournament primarily in India. Six months ago they held an IPL in the United Arab Emirates and it went very well. The covid rates were slow and no air bubbles were attacked. They could have returned there.

Yes, that is easy to say afterwards. And India clearly felt they had endured the worst of the virus when they decided to host this year’s contest.

But when they started bringing in large crowds for their matches against England in Ahmedabad earlier this year, with very little sign of masks or social aloofness, I thought to myself, ‘Is this the right thing to do? Did they really beat this? ‘

The problem now is when will they be able to reboot it on Earth? The calendar is so packed for the next year and it’s one of my big bugbears that cricket seems to think every gap needs to be filled. We never leave room for the game to breathe.

The positive tests for Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier forced the postponement of KKR's match with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

The positive tests for Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier forced the postponement of KKR’s match with Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

It is suggested that after their test series in September, the players of India will stay in England and play the rest of the IPL here. Or maybe they can go back to the UAE and try to do it for the Twenty20 World Cup.

But neither option is easy, not with international cricket being played outside the IPL window almost every time.

I saw on Tuesday that the Pakistan Super League, also postponed this year when bubbles were broken, wants to get back on the road in the UAE. How can that also be incorporated? Money talks and I can only assume that all these things are squeezed into something.

I don’t think the ICC needs to make a decision at this point about moving that T20 World Championship, which is to take place in India in October and November. Yes, India is not a viable location at the moment, but things can change quickly and nowhere is it completely safe. Keep the UAE contingency plans in place and make sure that wherever it happens in the end, it’s ahead of the curve. The problem now is that India is behind that curve.

England's white ball captain Eoin Morgan is one of 11 English players currently competing in the Indian Premier League, as fears of Covid-19 grow after positive tests on two teams

England’s white ball captain Eoin Morgan is one of 11 English players currently competing in the Indian Premier League, as fears of Covid-19 grow after positive tests on two teams

This has shown how well the ECB did last summer by not getting any positive test from anyone involved in the international competitions. We can only hope for repetition when the men and women of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan come here this summer.

I do not criticize the players in all of this. All they’ve done is try to keep doing their job under extremely difficult conditions. But what the ECB and other governing bodies need to do now is get them home as soon as possible, get them back to their families, and get some normalcy back into their lives.

Most of all, any sympathy shouldn’t lie with the cricketers or the IPL – it should be with the people of India. It is a country that has given an awful lot to world cricket and it needs help right now. The IPL was a help. But the game really had no choice.

India has given an awful lot to world cricket and it needs help with the crisis right now

India has given an awful lot to world cricket and it needs help with the crisis right now

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