Thursday, March 30, 2023

BCCI-IPL should have donated Rs 100 cr towards Covid relief, says former India wicketkeeper Surinder Khanna


MUMBAI, May 5: Apart from facing flak for organising IPL 2021 — which was on Tuesday postponed indefinitely after several players tested positive — in India even as the cases were rising, the cash-rich BCCI has also come under fire for not pitching in with any sort of financial help even as the country is reeling with the impact of a monstrous second wave of Covid-19.

“The BCCI-IPL should have donated at least Rs 100 crore towards covid relief,” former India wicketkeeper Surinder Khanna, who was in the IPL governing council last year as the representative of the Indian Cricketers’ Association (ICA), told TOI on Wednesday.
There were reports that the BCCI had lost out on around Rs 2,000 crore due to the IPL being postponed midway, but Khanna refused to buy the theory that the Board was under the cosh financially.
“It’s a loss of the BCCI’s profits, that’s all. In any case, the official IPL telecaster (Star Sports) has insurance cover under the force majeure clause. The Board still has enough cash reserves to carry out what is clearly its moral and social responsibility at a time like this,” Khanna stressed.
“The IPL should have been called much earlier, and even the franchises should have made that clear. Are they only bothered with profits, and not concerned with the lives and unlimited misery of the people?” said Khanna, who was the ‘Player of the Tournament’ in the first-ever ODI tournament in the UAE, the Asia Cup, held in Sharjah in 1984.
Like many others, Khanna, who had travelled to the UAE last year in September-October to watch IPL-2020, too feels that the BCCI was better off organising this edition too in the Gulf.
“The Board has made a mess of it. I saw in the UAE last year how wonderfully the bio-bubble created there functioned. I was out of the bubble, but was tested repeatedly, and felt safe. Everyone, from the top to bottom, was following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to the T. This is why we had no positive cases when the tournament began.
“I just can’t understand why, just seven months down the line, did they decide to move back the tournament to India? A bio-bubble operates best when there is just one city involved. So, maybe, if you chose only Mumbai, it was fine; but here, you were holding the league in six cities.
“I wish I was there in the IPL GC in these trying times. I would have insisted that they must hold this edition in the UAE. I don’t mean to be critical, but I wonder what was the current representative of ICA (former India left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha) doing in the governing council meetings?” lamented Khanna.

He also had a pertinent piece of advice for the BCCI. “Why did the Board not engage the same agency (Restrata) which had created such a secure bio-bubble in the IPL in the UAE last year? The Board must probe how the bubble was breached.” (TNN)