The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s decision to shift the Indian Premier League to another country on Sunday evoked a mixed reaction from former cricketers, some of whom felt that the entire issue was “messed up” by the BCCI.
While some former players justified the move to shift the IPL overseas, former captain Kapil Dev and legendary spinner Erapalli Prasanna were among those who were critical of the decision.
Prasanna said the BCCI should have consulted the Government before chalking out their schedule to avert such a move.
“If I were BCCI President I would have consulted the Government of India much before the decision on Lok Sabha election dates. Having not done that I would have conceded to the government to cancel the IPL because the tournament has the tag of India since the title is ‘Indian Premier League’. The BCCI has messed up the whole scenario,” he told PTI.
“Now by shifting the tournament outside the country how is it going to benefit or help the cricketers or the cricket-loving public of the country who will now be deprived of watching live action if cricket is the primary concern of the Board officials and franchisee owners,” said Prasanna.
1983 World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev felt the decision should have been taken after taking into account players’ views but their opinion was not asked by the BCCI.
“My thinking is entirely different. I would first take the players into confidence and take their concerns first before deciding to shift any tournament that belonged to India,” Kapil said insisting that he was speaking only in capacity of a former cricketer.
“The tournament was intended to be held in India, therefore the administrators of the game should have first talked to the players before venturing to shift the tournament.
“It is BCCI’s apathy that players are not allowed to give their opinion on this matter,” said Kapil, who is also the Chairman of the rebel Indian Cricket League’s Executive Committee.
Former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani, however, had a different view as he felt the show must go on.
“I think they did not want to take any risk due to tensions in the country. Ultimately, the show must go on and that has been decided by the IPL,” he said.
“It would be a good opportunity for the lads who have not gone out of the country to play. But there will be some disadvantage for the teams also as they would not get the desired crowd support,” he said drawing some positive out of the decision.
Another former player Madan Lal said the tournament was ought to be held in India.
“It should be held in India. It is an Indian Premier League after all. In shifting factors like weather and grounds would play a big role,” Lal said.
Former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar justified the decision saying the decision was dictated by safety concerns for all, especially the players.
“The important thing is the safety of the players. If the government has apprehensions about the safety of the players when polls are held it’s advisable to move it out,” Vengsarkar said.
Vengsarkar also said that the buck stopped with the government in case the safety was compromised.
“If something happens (during the holding of the IPL in India as was planned) the government will be blamed,” he said.
Former cricketer Atul Wassan felt it was expected since the organisers did not have many options left with them.
“There were not many options, so it was kind of expected. The tournament had to happen because there was no window after that time.
“Anyway, around 90-95 percent of the audience watch it on televisions and only 5-10 percent get to go to the stadiums so it’s good in a way that at least fans will be able to watch it at least on TV,” he said.
Another former cricketer Chandu Borde empathised with the BCCI, saying the news would be a relief for those involved with the IPL.
“I am quite sure the BCCI and IPL officials must have taken the decision after taking into account a lot of factors and after a lot of deliberations,” he said.
“Considering the present circumstances the players will be quite relieved to play outside India. They will be able to play freely without any security tensions. Some of the staging state associations must also be relieved by the decision as now they will not have to deal with the security concerns.
“If the tournament is to be held in England there would not be that much crowd as in India last year and weather may play truant also. But under the present circumstances I appreciate the BCCI and the IPL for deciding to continue the game though outside India instead of postponing the tournament,” he added.