Delhi Capitals coach says he has urged the overseas players in the team to help the locals cope
Ricky Ponting, the Delhi Capitals coach, has urged the overseas players at his franchise to “keep talking” about the “grim” Covid-19 situation outside the IPL bubble, especially to their Indian colleagues to help them stay in a happy headspace. He also feels that the IPL can “bring a lot of joy” to people in India, where a massive number of positive cases are being reported daily.
“This IPL, probably more than any other, has become more about what’s happening outside than what’s happening here,” Ponting, one of the first major voices to speak on the subject, told the Capitals’ media on Saturday. “We right now are probably the safest people in the country being in the bubbles that we are in. Continually I’m asking the boys at breakfast every day how’s everything going on the outside, how’s family, (is) family safe, (is) family happy. That’s a really important thing.
“It is really important, we are thinking about the extended family, not just us, but we’ve got to be talking about what’s happening outside because it is quite grim.”
Large parts of India, including the cities where the IPL matches have been scheduled, are in the grip of the raging pandemic, and despite concerns in several quarters, the BCCI is confident that the tournament is safe as it is being held in bio-secure set-ups without crowds.
Stay Home. Stay Safe.
The only way to beat the Coronavirus pandemic is by working as a team. Each one of us is a superhero and all we need to do is follow the basics and help each other. Here’s Virat Kohli and Co. with a public service announcement.#PlayBold #StayHomeStaySafe pic.twitter.com/jQT9q15N5j
— Royal Challengers Bangalore (@RCBTweets) April 25, 2021
But even within those bubbles, there has been the occasional setback – the Capitals’ allrounder Axar Patel rejoined the team in Chennai this week after spending 20 days in a medical facility in Mumbai. Patel called the experience one of the toughest of his life and rejoining the Capitals one of the best.
Ponting acknowledged that the Indian players, across teams, would be distracted and concerned about their families and friends outside the bubbles. “It is hard for the players to be away from their families. I can’t imagine… Even if I put myself in this situation, guys that live in Chennai are actually home now, but can’t see their families,” he said. “It must be incredibly difficult. So the more we can share these experiences, the better off we are.
“The people that aren’t from India, the more that we can be talking to the locals about what they are going through the better off we are all going to be. We will just keep our fingers crossed. And hope people remain safe. That’s a big thing for me: the players are taking the best care of their families where they can from the outside.”
The other key responsibility that teams and coaches had, Ponting pointed out, was to ensure the quality of the cricket in the IPL remained high. “Even with the country being in a situation that it is, I think cricket can still bring a lot of joy to people,” he said. “So it is important for us to be doing what we can as cricketers and as coaches and as a franchise to putting on the best show as possible to give the people something that they’d like to see.”
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
Bangladesh cricket – Former BCB president Kamal Ziaul Islam dies aged 86
During his term – 1983 to 1987 – he made the important contribution of introducing Bangladesh’s first school-cricket competition
Former BCB president Kamal Ziaul Islam, popularly known as KZ Islam, has died in Dhaka. He was 86.
Islam was the president of the board, then known as the BCCB, between 1983 and 1987. During his term, he made the important contribution of introducing the country’s first school-cricket competition. He funded the tournament through his company, Nirman International Ltd, which gave it its name: the Nirman School Cricket Tournament.
The competition moulded many top-class cricketers – Habibul Bashar, Khaled Mahmud and Javed Omar emerged from its first batch. Islam also set up the Nirman XI cricket team in the Dhaka league, which was promoted up to the List A Dhaka Premier League in the early 1990s. At one time, Islam hired Northamptonshire’s Alan Fordham as player-coach of the Nirman side, and even arranged a private England tour for the team’s young players.
For many generations since the mid-1980s, the Nirman school competition regularly produced cricketers who would progress to the Dhaka leagues, and later the national team. Even Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim played this school cricket, though they came through the BCB’s system. The Nirman tournament is the precursor to the BCB’s game development programme.
BCB president Nazmul Hassan praised Islam for his vision at a time when cricket wasn’t even a professional sport in the country. “He was a pioneer and Bangladesh cricket will forever be grateful to him for his vision and belief,” Hassan said.
“He patronised and encouraged age-group cricket with the Nirman school tournament during a period when the game was far from being a professional sport. Because of resourceful personalities like him so many budding players could dream of becoming cricketers and cricket reached every corner of the country.”
As a mark of respect, the BCB flag will fly at half-mast on Tuesday.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
The Hundred – BCCI grants NOCs to four India players
ESPNcricinfo understands that the Indian board has already sent ECB the NOCs
The BCCI has granted four India Women players No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for their participation in the inaugural Hundred, the eight-team tournament which starts on July 21.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the Indian board has already sent the ECB the NOCs and the official announcement regarding the four contracted players comprising the Indian contingent is likely to made by the franchises soon.
The Indian players with the Hundred contracts will extend their stay in the UK following the completion of India’s multi multi-format assignment against hosts England which begins with a one-off Test on Bristol on June 16 and concludes with the third and final T20I on July 15. A three-match ODI series is also slotted in between.
Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, and Deepti Sharma made up the Indian contingent at the now-defunct Kia Super League (KSL), the ECB’s domestic T20 tournament that made way for the Women’s Hundred.
During India’s home series against South Africa in March, India T20I vice-captain Mandhana, who represented the Western Storm in the 2018 and 2019 seasons of the KSL, had confirmed that the ECB and the BCCI had been in touch regarding the NOCs.
The Hundred, which was postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will kick off with the women’s match between the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals in London before their respective men’s sides meet the following day.
With no player draft for the women, teams are selected by their respective head coaches. Players with contracts for 2020 were given the option to roll them over to 2021 at the same salary band, or to negotiate with other teams. Teams can sign a maximum of three players with England central contracts, and have until June 2021 to finalise their squads.
Some of the big names in the tournament include Sophie Devine (Birmingham Phoenix), Deandra Dottin (London Spirit), Marizanne Kapp (Oval Invincibles), Meg Lanning (Welsh Fire).
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
IPL 2021 – Amid Covid concern, IPL may shift entirely to Mumbai
BCCI is believed to be working on a plan that will minimize risks, especially in travel
As Covid-19 cases emerge within the IPL, ESPNcricinfo understands the BCCI is looking at minimising risks and moving the rest of the tournament to Mumbai. If the plan is executed, the IPL could be shifted to Mumbai as early as this weekend.
This will necessitate a rejigged tournament schedule, with multiple double headers. There is also a likelihood of the IPL final being moved from May 30 to early June.
The biggest challenge for the BCCI in making its Mumbai plan work is to create the IPL bubble, which mainly entails finding hotels for the eight teams to be housed in and preparing the stadia. Luckily, in terms of match fitness, all the three key grounds in Mumbai – Wankhede, DY Patil and Brabourne – were utilised during the first leg of the IPL in April.
While the Wankhede hosted 10 IPL matches, the other two grounds, and the Mumbai Cricket Association’s ground in the Bandra-Kurla Complex, were used by various teams for training purposes.
It is understood that the BCCI team made calls on Monday to various big hotels in Mumbai to verify if they were capable of satisfying the various SOPs needed to create a team bubble. No BCCI and IPL official was available for a comment. Franchises, too, have not heard of the plan formally, but some say they will not be surprised if the Mumbai plan was acted on.
It would mean ditching the two-venue caravan model and reverting to the BCCI’s original plan, when it was working out the IPL schedule, of having Mumbai as the hub. The schedule eventually released, on March 7, had six venues – Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. Chennai and Mumbai hosted the first leg while the second leg is being played currently in Ahmedabad and Delhi.
The IPL’s next stage is meant to be in Bengaluru and Kolkata, from next week. However, with India being enveloped by a second wave of the pandemic and the first cases emerging of the IPL bubble being breached, franchises, players and even some within the BCCI remain concerned about the pitfalls involved in travelling.
When the IPL began, Mumbai was the worst-affected metro in India, with almost 10,000 new cases every day. It is now acknowledged that a corner has been turned in this respect – Monday’s case count was 2,662, the lowest daily tally since March 17. It was a steep drop from a month ago – 11,163 covid-19 cases on April 4, the highest-ever number in the pandemic.
The impact on the WTC final
If the IPL is stretched beyond May 30, it is bound to potentially have an impact on the World Test Championship final, between India and New Zealand in Southampton from June 18-22. With the UK recently blocking travel from India, the ICC, the WTC host, is currently negotiating quarantine norms and exemptions with the British government for the members of both teams who are currently playing in the IPL.
One BCCI official, though, pointed out that moving the IPL to Mumbai could offer the advantage of the Indian and New Zealand players flying direct to England instead of the potential two-leg journey if the IPL final were to be played in Ahmedabad, as scheduled.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
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