Dubai: The one question on most of the Indian cricket fans’ minds is: Why India are playing their first World Cup match so late, almost six days after the start of the event? It is a valid and justifiable question as India’s opponents in their opener, South Africa, will be playing their third game of the tournament.
The answer is plain and simple. It is part of the raft of the reforms suggested by the Lodha Committee, which was instituted after the match-fixing and spot-fixing scandal that erupted during the Indian Premier League in 2013.
The Supreme Court of India appointed a four-member committee headed by Justice Mukul Mudgal to conduct an independent inquiry into the allegations of corruptions and the involvement of officials and players.
The court then appointed another committee under Justice R.M. Lodha, which was called the Lodha Committee. It mainly focused on three main tasks — punishing those found guilty by the Mudgal Committee, scrutinising the role of COO Sundar Raman in the IPL spot-fixing scam and providing more transparency in the functioning of BCCI to avoid further stings.
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As per the Lodha Committee guidelines, which also included the retirement age of the administrators, a time limit for the officials not exceeding two continuous terms, a cooling-off period and so on. Among the requirements, it is also mandatory for the Indian cricket team to have a 15-day recovery period between the Indian Premier League and upcoming international fixtures.
The Indian Premier League is usually held from the first week of April until the last week of May. However, every five years, due to the clash with the Indian Parliamentary elections, the IPL had previously been shifted fully or partially to overseas venues. In 2009, it was held in South Africa and in 2014 the UAE hosted the first half of the fixtures. According to the initial schedule this year, the final of IPL 12 was slated to be held on May 19, and 15 days from then would have been June 3 so it would not been possible for India to play their opener on June 2.
However, as IPL 12 — despite clashing with the elections — was held fully at Indian venues, the dates had to be revised and brought forward by a week and held between March 23 and May 12. Since the IPL finished earlier than originally planned, India team had a longer break to fulfil their commercial obligations and also recover to play their first game against South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday.
The question now is why did the International Cricket Council heed to the BCCI’s request? It is a well-known fact about India’s financial muscle in cricket and without the powerhouse, it could have put the entire tournament in jeopardy.
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