Uncertainty looms as BCCI ponders over curtailed 2020-21 domestic season

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A report in one of the leading media outlets in India last week suggested that the possible November start to the 2020-21 domestic season, seemed unlikely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Echoing that possibility, a BCCI official has hinted that, ‘it is possible that there will be no domestic season at all, or we start in December-January’.

The earlier expected domestic plan was to have two tournaments for men – Ranji Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy – and the 50-over and T20 leagues for senior women. According to the plan, the men’s tournaments were to start from November and end in March while the women’s events would run from November 1 to April 12.

But nothing has come out on any of the matter as the BCCI is busy with the Indian Premier League which has been shifted to UAE because of the pandemic. “Nothing has changed officially, but it seems impossible that we will start in November as planned, with (COVID-19) numbers going up all the time,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying to ESPNcricinfo. “We are trying to get the season underway, but it is possible that there will be no cricket, or we start in December-January.”

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With the 2021 Women’s World Cup scheduled to happen in New Zealand in February-March next year postponed by 12 months, and the ICC Women’s Under-19 World Cup seemingly postponed as well (there is still no official word on the tournament), there are no global women’s events scheduled for next year.

“Some people are talking about a second (COVID-19) wave in November so that by mid-December or January, there could be some chance of domestic cricket, at least some of the tournaments,” former BCCI General Manager Ratnakar Shetty told ESPNcricinfo.

“It’s important because there are ICC events are connected to them. The BCCI will not spare any effort, I can tell you that, we always feel domestic cricket is our strength and we have always catered for that. Although the season used to start in October, the process used to start in April-May in terms of selecting probables, getting them to train, getting the grounds ready,” he added.

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“Unfortunately, this season, because of the pandemic, there is no sign of the numbers decreasing. The numbers are going up and up, and honestly, I am telling you, no state unit has prepared anything for the domestic cricket because there was no chance. There is no SOP or permission for team games as yet.

“In these circumstances, I think it is going to be difficult and challenging even for the state units to prepare themselves and get the team ready even if you say it is in the month of December. The quality of the (domestic) circuit will be affected if we decide to start in December. At the present rate, nothing is possible for at least two more months in terms of the preparation,” Shetty concluded.