IPL 2020 in UAE may see more players and less staff

Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni with the IPL Trophy before the 2019 edition final. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty …Read More

NEW DELHI: With the Indian Premier League‘s governing council (GC) slated to meet on Sunday, strength of each IPL squad will be up for discussion while formalizing the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for this year’s tournament in UAE.
An IPL franchise generally has 25-28 players in its squad and at least 10-15 members in support staff besides the executives. TOI understands that each IPL franchise will have to organize its own bio-bubble upon reaching UAE about month ahead of the tournament. In that case, limiting the squad could be a bone of contention.
Last time when IPL was played in UAE in 2014, teams carried a trimmed squad. Usually, franchises relieve a lot of players in the middle of the season if they aren’t close to selection in the playing XI.
TOI has learnt that there have been suggestions that the franchises could be asked to limit the number of players to 20. The idea is to keep the dressing room as less crowded as possible. However, the franchises believe that there shouldn’t be any compromise on the number of players.
“If at all there are directions on the squad strength, then the franchises would prefer to prune their non-playing staff. Some franchises will leave this decision to the coach and the team management. Ideally, if there is a cap then it should be on the entourage as a whole,” a senior franchise official told TOI.
“On match days, there could be cap on the number of people a franchise brings to ground. Even a few from the support staff could be asked to stay back in the hotel,” he added.
Net bowlers a big challenge
The other sticking point for the franchises is the arrangement of proper practice facilities. With such strict health protocols in place, availability of resources for practice won’t be as easy as it was last time. “That’s why the franchises need more players. The teams will be in UAE for nearly two and a half months. Getting net bowlers for so many teams will be tough,” the official said.
The ICC Academy in Dubai has nearly 40 pitches and two full grounds. Even the Abu Dhabi ground has huge practice facilities. “The franchises can hire the facilities but they need to have resources too. There has to be an SOP on hiring net bowlers and resources,” the official added.
Chennai Super Kings plan to leave a week earlier than others
Chennai Super Kings, the most successful IPL team, are working on touching down in Dubai on August 10. TOI has also learnt that Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) are eyeing Aug 19-20 while all other teams should leave by Aug 25. “CSK have been proactive. They had informed the players to be ready to leave on Aug 10. But the delay in SOPs from the BCCI could push that back,” a source said.
Since the Indian government has only allowed repatriation flights now, BCCI is in talks with Emirates Airlines to coordinate with the franchises. But a few franchises are already looking at organizing chartered flights,” the source added.

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