Friday the 13th was indeed a ghastly day for the cricket world. First, an ODI between Australia and New Zealand, part of the historic Chapple-Hadlee Trophy, was played in front of an empty stadium in order to prevent the spread of Corona Virus. Then, England's ongoing tour of Sri Lanka was abruptly called off in the middle of the visitor's practice match.
And finally, to top it all off, the Indian Premier League (IPL), which was scheduled to get underway on March 29, got postponed till April 15. However, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken a decision which is half-hearted at best and insufficient at worst. Postponing this event by 15 days looks quite farcical.
Yes, it is quite possible that by that time, the menace of COVID-19 would subside and the tournament could go on as usual. But that is only one possibility. The other is that things would remain the same and the BCCI would continue to be troubled by questions about whether it is correct to be holding this tournament when the threat of this infection is still strong.
Yesterday, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India revealed that they have advised the BCCI to postpone the tournament. The problem for BCCI, and for other cricket authorities also, is that the schedule for all teams is packed. The period in which IPL is played is kept devoid of international series to allow the top players to participate in it.
If the tournament is postponed, it may clash, in terms of schedule with other series and tours. This would lead to several top players of various teams not participating. Consequently, the tournament would lose a lot of its sheen and that may invite an adverse reaction from sponsors and television rights holders.
However, all considerations about money and cricket should be considered inferior to the larger problem of tackling Corona Virus or COVID-19. Currently, there is another T20 league going on in the subcontinent. This is the Pakistan Super League. However, this tournament also has been afflicted by the virus as spectators have been banned from the stadium. English players playing in this league have also been asked to return.
So, what is clear is that this is not a good time for holding sports events. Even the leading football leagues of Europe, the most popular sports events in the world, have decided to have their matches played in empty stadiums. All this shows that when it comes to matters of life and death, which COVID-19 is, sports isn't the most important thing.