The indefinite postponement of the India Premier League as a result of the rampant spread of the Coronavirus has brought into question the staging of the 2021 International Cricket Council’s T20I World Cup in India, says former Barbados and England cricketer Roland Butcher.
But Butcher does not believe that based on what is currently taking place in India that organisers of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) have anything to worry about. He explained that the IPL was on a grander scale than the CPL.
“They are two completely different situations. The IPL is a much bigger operation than the CPL. It also has many more nationalities taking part in that competition and much bigger names in terms of individuals from different countries,” Butcher said as seven West Indies players prepared to return home due to the postponement of the IPL.
During a telephone interview with Barbados TODAY, Butcher said he does not believe that there is any quick fix to the situation unfolding in India. They have a staggering 400, 000 cases daily.
“I don’t think India would solve their problems that quickly because, given the sheer numbers of the population, it will take a while before they can solve their problems.
“So, the World Cup becomes a consideration in terms of, one – should it be postponed, two – should it be moved to a different country? All those are things that would have to be looked at by the ICC.
“The safest bet at this moment in time would be a country like New Zealand who has demonstrated for nearly a year now, the capacity to handle the COVID situation. And the capacity to handle the return of successful local and international sports,” Butcher explained.
Bearing in mind CPL was successfully staged last year in Trinidad and Tobago, albeit in tougher COVID-19 conditions, Butcher said he saw no difficulty in the Caribbean being able to deliver. The situation in India, he noted, was compounded by the fact that the population is so vast and that it is quite easy for the virus to spread.
“With the density of the population, it can spread easily. What you are seeing happening in India is that COVID has overwhelmed the medical facilities. Whereby they have had difficulties not just getting beds but even things like oxygen which is important for the treatment of COVID.
“So, they have got major problems outside of cricket. The fact that eventually within the bubble they had, the virus was being able to spread inside the bubbles and a number of players and officials associated with teams were being infected. That compounded the difficulties of staging a tournament in India at this time,” he stated.
According to Butcher, St. Kitts and Nevis’ record throughout the pandemic has been very good. Hence the reason CPL management went with the decision to have the tournament staged there starting August 28th.
Butcher also revealed that he was not surprised India had to cancel the IPL for now and said their situation was fraught with danger due to the escalating number of positive cases.
“I suspect that the tournament here should not have any difficulties. As I said the IPL was fraught with danger with the escalating positive tests on a daily basis. It is really difficult to isolate from those sorts of numbers because we just don’t know where a positive test will turn up,” Butcher said.
With the lucrative IPL now postponed indefinitely, the regional four-day tournament now cancelled and no form of cricket scheduled to play in the Caribbean, Butcher explained that each territory may host tournaments to keep players active.
“They are looking within the individual countries, that the individual countries can hold tournaments based on the best versus the rest. So, what they are hoping to do once cricket is allowed to play in those islands is that let us say Barbados will pick two squads and play a best of the best series between those squads. This would provide CWI with the opportunity to select players for international competition.
“It is not going to be the best of competitions but I think in the circumstances it may be the best of a bad deal where there is no more cricket available. I think all of that is going to have to be weighed up against how the governments deal with each island in terms of its readiness to allow sports to start back.
“In Barbados right now we got permission to practise but there is no governmental or medical support for the actual playing of matches. So, right now all we can do is keep our players in practice under strict COVID-19 protocols. But the possibility of some Caribbean islands not being in a hurry to resume sports will also have to be taken into consideration,” Butcher stressed.