IPL set for restart, Aussie involvement uncertain
The Indian Premier League is set to resume in the United Arab Emirates in September, according to reports from India, adding to a hectic schedule for Australia's leading players
26 May 2021, 07:22 AM AEST
The Indian Premier League is reportedly set to resume in the United Arab Emirates in the third week of September.
The Times of India reports that the lucrative competition will cram 10 double-header matches into a three-week window culminating in early October.
It means there will be no clash with India's tour of England, with the final Test match scheduled to finish on September 14, around four days before the reported restart.
An October finish would run directly into the window for the T20 World Cup, which could yet also be played in the UAE.
The IPL was postponed in early May after a number of players tested positive for the virus, and there remain 31 matches in the season still to play.
Nearly 40 Australian cricketers, support staff and broadcasters are still in hotel quarantine in Sydney after they arrived home on a charter flight provided by the Indian authorities.
The Australians had been required to isolate in the Maldives for about a week when Australia shut its borders to arrivals from India.
They are expected to clear their quarantine period this weekend, with a preliminary squad of 23 players named for an ODI and T20 tour of the West Indies that will depart in late June.
Allrounder Daniel Sams has already made himself unavailable for that tour and Cricket Australia is understood to have long been in discussions with players about the mental fatigue of biosecure bubbles and hotel quarantine periods.
Pat Cummins and David Warner have reportedly expressed a desire to remain with their families instead of travelling to the Caribbean – Cummins' fiancée Becky is pregnant with the couple's first child, and Warner has three young daughters – and others may follow suit.
A proposed trip to Bangladesh for more T20s after the West Indies series has yet to be formally agreed, although Bangladesh Cricket Board operations chairman Akram Khan said overnight the teams would play five matches across nine days in August.
With international series against West Indies and Bangladesh looming as well as the T20 World Cup before a jam-packed home summer of international cricket with a Test against Afghanistan before the five-Test Vodafone Ashes series, managing the mental health of players will be as important a priority as their physical wellbeing for CA.
It remains to be seen if Australia will release players for a rescheduled IPL given the close proximity to the T20 World Cup, although CA may see the tournament as ideal preparation for some players ahead of the showpiece tournament.
Key T20 players such as captain Aaron Finch and fast bowler Mitchell Starc do not have currently have IPL contracts, although with the England authorities having already confirmed their players would be barred from participating if a rescheduled tournament clashed with international commitments, opportunities may arise.
There were also mooted plans for a T20 tri-series with Afghanistan and the West Indies in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, but with the tournament likely to be moved they remain in doubt.
Earlier this week there had been reports that India's governing body, the BCCI, had informally approached the England and Wales Cricket Board with a view to moving the Test series.
If the new dates are confirmed, the schedule would not affect the Test series, with players expected to fly directly from the UK to a new biosphere bubble in the UAE.
The BCCI has scheduled a Special General Meeting for this Saturday, May 29, when new dates are expected to be confirmed.
An International Cricket Council board meeting follows next week, where the location of this year's T20 World Cup is expected to be decided.
That tournament is currently scheduled for India but with the country in the midst of a devastating COVID-19 outbreak that has an official death toll above 300,000, with true cases believed to be much higher, it could also be moved to the UAE.
The Pakistan Super League, which was suspended in late February after a series out COVID cases among players and support staff, including Australian Fawad Ahmed, will also be restarted in the UAE, with its remaining 20 matches to all be played in Abu Dhabi next month.