Franchises, stakeholders unite in COVID fight, hail IPL suspension

Kolkata: Franchises and stakeholders of the Indian Premier League on Tuesday hailed the BCCI’s decision to suspend the tournament indefinitely, insisting that cricket can wait while the country fights an unprecedented COVID-19 crisis.

The BCCI was forced to suspend the lucrative T20 tournament indefinitely midway into the season after multiple cases of the dreaded virus were reported inside the bio-bubble.

“We’re all in this together. The safety and security of everyone in VIVO IPL 2021 is of paramount importance and we support the decision of BCCI to postpone the tournament,” Royal Challengers Bangalore said in a statement.

“Royal Challengers Bangalore will work in consultation with the BCCI to ensure that everyone has a safe passage back home,” it added.

Former India captain Mohammed Azharuddin also lauded the BCCI for doing the right thing by postponing the tournament.

“In view of the COVID crisis in India and with players testing positive, the postponement of IPL with immediate effect is the correct course of action taken by @BCCI and the IPL governing council. Hope to see IPL back soon in better & safe environment,” Azharuddin wrote.

Former England batsman-turned-commentator Kevin Pietersen said it was heartbreaking to see India suffering.

“India – it’s heartbreaking to see a country I love so much suffering. You WILL get through this! You WILL be stronger coming out of this! Your kindness & generosity NEVER goes unnoticed even during this crisis!” he tweeted.

While former Australia cricketer and Kolkata Knight Riders’ chief mentor David Hussey took to Twitter to say he was “shattered”, South African pace legend Dale Steyn wished a speedy recovery to those infected.

“Covid don’t care. It has no favorites. Get well to those sick and hopefully everyone else will get home safe and in good health,” Steyn tweeted.

The otherwise smooth conduct of the tournament first hit the roadblock after KKR’s match against RCB had to be rescheduled on Monday following two of its players Varun Chakravarthy and Sandeep Warrier testing positive for the infection.

Later in the day, three non-playing members of the Chennai Super Kings — bowling coach L Balaji, CEO Kasi Viswanathan and a bus cleaner — also tested positive as India reported a daily COVID-19 count of 3,57,316.

On Tuesday, Sunrisers Hyderabad wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha and Delhi Capitals veteran spinner Amit Mishra also tested positive for the dreaded virus as BCCI announced the postponement with immediate effect.

“We take this opportunity to thank all the healthcare workers, state associations, players, support staff and sponsors for all the support. Above all, a big thanks to the #yellowve. We will roar again… Soon!,” CSK tweeted on its official twitter handle.

Defending champions Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings announced they will work with BCCI to ensure a safe return of all their members.

“With the postponement of VIVO IPL 2021, Mumbai Indians will work with BCCI and the respective authorities to ensure safe and secured travel for each member of the franchise,” MI tweeted.

“Punjab Kings will work closely with BCCI and other authorities to ensure all the team members get back home safely,” PBKS stated.

Sunrisers also expressed their gratitude to the frontline workers and tweeted: “…together, we will fight the situation and come out, safer and stronger.” 

Former India cricketer Vinod Kambli urged everyone to take proper precautions.

“Looking forward to better times ahead when we can enjoy the game again. But till then, request everyone to take precautions and get vaccinated as soon as possible. We shall come back stronger,” he said.