Mumbai Indians players celebrate winning the IPL 2019 final against Chennai Super Kings in Hyderabad. (AFP Pho…Read More
MUMBAI: With merely an official announcement waiting to come for the Indian Premier League (IPL) to formally start moving out, the government in UAE and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) say they consider this decision – on part of BCCI – “a very big and an exceptionally important move”.
As the governing council of the league got into a phone call on Sunday to discuss the shifting of the 2020 edition, Khalid Al Zarooni, the vice-chairman of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) told TOI: “The IPL aside, our relationship with the Indian government, the Indian public and Indian trade is also an important aspect of our history, one that we are extremely proud of. Such support between our countries can only benefit our relationships in the future”.
The UAE is expecting an influx of visitors in excess of 1400 as sport looks forward to witnessing one of its most gigantic exercises ever taken. The IPL has twice moved out of the country, the second time to UAE itself, but pulling off a shift in the middle of a pandemic will be a massive effort.
“All UAE Airports are very highly effective facilities that excel in passenger processing and experience. We are one of the world’s leading benchmarks for travel and safety to the highest standard; we have all confidence that any traffic flows through the UAE airports will be managed at the highest level,” Al Zarooni added.
Addressing concerns surrounding the unrelenting virus, the ECB vice-chairman, who also heads the Dubai Sports City, said: “The UAE Government has become a leading example for handling the pandemic and we continue to see encouragingly decreasing numbers across the country and increasing recoveries. Immediate measures were taken at the start of the pandemic which is why we see normality coming back to the UAE earlier than many other countries”.
The Emirates Cricket Board’s secretary general Mubashshir Usmani, who will be in charge of the league’s day-to-day detail once it moves to the UAE, also spoke with TOI. “Hosting the 2014 edition was an exceptionally exciting and rewarding experience. We gained valuable experience in logistics, movement between Emirates and the overall governance. That experience, and through the hosting of other bilateral cricket, we have a sound, solid understanding of what is required, and to whom we need to consult and engage,” he said.
The ECB, Usmani added, considers this a very big, exceptionally important move and is confident in delivering a successful tournament. At the top of their mind, he adds, is to ensure that there is enough to support the efforts of health authorities and ensure a safe location while delivering a successful tournament.
“The grounds-staff and the executive teams at all three stadia have been working tirelessly on maintenance even before we presented our proposal to the BCCI (in April). Infrastructure-wise, UAE boasts some of the best facilities. We have three grounds – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah — where Abu Dhabi also has two adjoining academy grounds. All three facilities have access to practice grounds at Dubai’s ICC Academy, the world’s biggest practice facility which includes 38 wickets and a few simulated turfs. There are eight teams, so we don’t see any issues with ensuring proper practice sessions,” Usmani said.
While the BCCI and its stakeholders are working on creating their own bio-secure bubbles and making the necessary arrangements, Usmani said “UAE Authorities will provide the ECB with guidelines in a time-relevant and timely manner to ensure player and other stakeholder safety”.