Most cricketers, Indians and overseas, hit the ground running after a five-month break and during this time were locked up inside their homes without any proper physical training and outdoor practice. Having landed in the UAE barely a fortnight before the IPL is set to get underway, most teams “don’t mind a few warm-ups to get into the groove”.
Franchises spoke to TOI to share their thoughts on the matter on Monday as all teams, barring Chennai Super Kings, began outdoor training and net sessions in full swing.
Broadcasters Star India, it is understood, is also inclined towards the idea of warm-up games as a build-up to the league, a tournament that will signal the return of Indian cricket after an unprecedented six months.
“Having some competitive warm-up games will be good for the tournament,” a leading franchise executive said. Another franchise CEO expressed “100% support to the idea of warm-ups”. Two other franchises, in fact, told TOI “warm-ups are the only way to get players back into the tournament mode right from Day One” because they have played no cricket whatsoever over the last few months.
Star refused to comment on the matter but those in the know said “they are in favour of the idea and are also keen on their broadcast as it will help build the anticipation for IPL”.
Apropos of whether practice matches are held or not between now and the start of the tournament, teams are still finding it tough to be match-ready by the time the first ball is bowled.
Given the BCCI’s plans to put a slightly complicated schedule in place – one that has to be dynamic in nature, considering the threat of Covid – all eight teams have to be prepared to play in the first four days of the league.
“That’s one of the concerns, because these boys haven’t really had a go since the last five months and it’s less than a week that they’ve started outdoor training. Match-practice won’t be adequate for sure by the time the tournament begins,” say those tracking developments.
Broadcasters Star, who have much to gain from the tournament this year, considering it will be a television-only event, are all the more eager about the idea because only if the cricketers get enough match practice can one expect “high quality game” when the league begins.