The IPL 2021 season has rolled into its second leg, with matches being staged in Ahmedabad and Delhi. However, the prevailing Covid-19 crisis in India has prompted many voices from around the world to speak about the tournament being incongruent with the situation in the country.
Former England footballer and television commentator Gary Lineker said it is “terribly wrong” for the IPL to continue amidst such a “catastrophe”. “People are dying faster than runs are being scored for crying out loud,” he exclaimed in a tweet.
I love the @IPL as much as any cricket fan, but it seems so terribly wrong for it to continue given the Covid catastrophe that’s currently occurring in India. People are dying faster than runs are being scored for crying out loud.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) April 26, 2021
“Cricket is irrelevant,” said British television host Piers Morgan.
The Indian Premier League should not continue given the horrific Covid crisis in India due to Prime Minister @narendramodi‘s woefully irresponsible leadership. The country’s sole focus should be on the raging pandemic. Cricket is irrelevant. #IPL
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) April 26, 2021
Several publications from around the world, while reporting on the status of players from their countries currently in India playing in the IPL, questioned the need for the IPL 2021 season to be staged in present circumstances.
An editorial in The Guardian noted that in India, “there are certain cash cows that cannot be criticised, but even more protected are the holy cows, such as the IPL. The BCCI is run by Jay Shah, the secretary, and he reports not so much to the president of the BCCI, Sourav Ganguly, as to Amit Shah, the home minister of India and one of most powerful men in the country. Jay also happens to be Amit’s son.
The email sent to the 8 IPL teams by the BCCI earlier this week was called a “charm offensive” by The Guardian. An editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald had a sarcastic take on the notion that the players in the IPL were “playing for humanity”. “The Covid crisis in Australia was never nearly as acute as it is in India right now, but we shut down all sport and somehow bumbled through… Yeah, but humanity,” it said.
The Daily Mail reported that pressure is growing on the England Cricket Board to bring back their players from India. In a separate editorial titled ‘Surely, the IPL show cannot go on after Chris Lynn’s jab revelation’, the publication noted that it is “absurd that fit, young cricketers protected by a bio-secure bubble are jumping the vaccine queue in Covid-ravaged India” and that staging the tournament now is “tone-deaf”.
A number of players, including the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Kane Richardson, and Adam Zampa have pulled out of the tournament midway. Richardson and Zampa had been lucky with their timing, announcing their decision to leave India 24 hours before Australia announced a three-week pause on all direct flights from India.
Andrew Tye, one of the overseas players to have walked out of the tournament, said: “I just thought I’d get on the front foot and get home before I got locked out of the country… Looking at it from an Indian view, how are these companies and franchises, and the government, spending so much money on the IPL when there are people not being able to get accepted into hospital?”
Australian PM Scott Morrison has said there would be no special consideration given to Australian cricketers contracted by the IPL franchises to play in the event because they are not on national duty.
India has recorded more than a million Covid-19 cases in the last few days. Ambulances, medical oxygen, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and life-saving medicines are all in short supply.