No cricket in India in the near future - Ganguly


With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the sporting activities around the world to a halt, playing in empty stadiums is the likely scenario in the foreseeable future until the threat of the virus is completely negated. Bundesliga, the German football league, is likely to be the first top-flight league that sets the tone for the future with discussions being held for the league to resume sometime in May.

Some of the cricketers too have been open to the idea of playing in empty stadiums. The first ODI between Australia and New Zealand in March was played without fans being able to watch it at the venue, which was also the case with the fifth day of the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal, with the closing stages of the match being played behind closed doors.

However, top flight cricket in India won't happen anytime soon according to BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, who says sport should take a backseat 'when there is risk to human life'.

"The social reality of Germany and India are different, there will be no cricket in India in the near future," Ganguly told Times of India on Tuesday. "There are too many ifs and buts involved. More importantly, I don't believe in sport when there is a risk to human life."

Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner who is part of the Chennai Super Kings team in the IPL, concurred. "When IPL teams travel, there's a huge crowd at the airports, hotels, outside the stadium. How are you going to stop them if you are looking to maintain social distancing? There should be no top-flight cricket till there is a vaccine for Covid-19."

The top brass of Cricket Australia have been having discussions of hosting the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled for October this year, in empty stadiums. "We might not generate financial returns that are as significant as the international cricket season. But the bigger returns from the broadcast rights around the event that are generated by the ICC are very important to all of our counterparts around the cricket world," CA chief executive Kevin Roberts said on Tuesday.

Sunil Gavaskar, the former India captain, had recently suggested that the T20 World Cups in 2020 and 2021, to be held in Australia and India respectively, can be swapped if the situation is under control in India. "As we all know, Australia has barred foreigners from entering the country till September 30. The tournament starts in mid-October so it is looking difficult at the moment," Gavaskar told India Today.

"Next year the T20 World Cup is scheduled in India. If India and Australia come to an agreement and the Covid-19 curve in India flattens out, they can swap. It can be held in India this October-November and next year in Australia."

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