“We lost a few of my friends; we keep hearing from families who urgently need support.”
Despite the withdrawal of several high profile players and calls for a postponement, the IPL, which is attracting the world’s best cricketers for big money deals, is about to enter week four.
“Some days I’m in the mood to watch (the cricket) because it’s a break from what’s going on. We’re all locked up at home, it’s a way for a family to unite and a good one Spending time together, especially in lockdown when you can’t get out, “added Anand Patil.
“But some days it doesn’t feel right. Some days it just feels like this: do we really need it?”
This week some top players, including India international Ravichandran Ashwin, withdrew from the tournament.
Australian star Pat Cummins, the most expensive overseas purchase in the 2020 IPL auction, received praise this week for donating $ 39,000 (A $ 50,000) to medical care in India. A number of other current and past players – including Sachin Tendulkar and Brett Lee – as well as teams like the Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Capitals have also made donations for Covid-19 relief efforts.
However, questions are raised as to whether the game’s administrators could do more given the impact of Covid-19 in India.
“This is the sport we love. The IPL is sure to bring lots of smiles and distraction during the toughest times,” KK Ramachandran, a Coimbatore-based educator and avid cricket fan, told CNN Sport.
“I have no judgments about the planning of the IPL, but personally I think all sponsors, teams and organizers could have gotten much bigger branding points if they had focused their attention and energy on what is undoubtedly one of the greatest crises humanity is facing . “
Anand Patil also said the game should do more to fight the pandemic: “Everyone can come together and make it feel a little better and maybe they can donate some of the profits to what is now in India what is needed … oxygen and beds and what we really need right now. “
The ICC, the governing body for international cricket, and the BCCI, the governing body of cricket in India, did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
Addressing the players, Amin went on to say, “As you play the sport we all love, you are doing something really important … When you all go out on the field, you bring hope to millions of people who have tuned in. If you can put a smile on someone’s face for even a minute, then you’ve done well. While you’re professionals and playing to win, this time you’re also playing for something far more important … humanity. ‘”
According to Forbes, the IPL is the sixth most important sports league in the world after the NFL, the Champions League and the four largest national football competitions in Europe. Delaying or canceling the tournament, some have argued, would come at a cost.
“There is an entire ecosystem that is being sustained through the IPL … that is making a living for a few million Indians, if not more,” Indian cricket journalist Boria Majumdar told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies this week.
“We’re talking about a huge economic system here. By stopping the IPL, what are you doing? You’re plunging the nation into more darkness, talking about more debt and more pandemic.”
The success of the IPL was not least fueled by the game’s cricket-mad fan base in India.
“Cricket is like a religion in India. Or maybe more,” said Krishna Kumar, a brand marketer in Sydney, Australia and an avid Indian cricket fan, told CNN Sport.
“It’s a common ground that brings everyone together across regions, socio-economic classes, religions or sects. It’s India’s glue and antidepressant.”
Given the popularity of the sport and its star players (Indian captain Virat Kohli, for example, has nearly 200 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter), the IPL has a standout platform amid the public health crisis in India.
“We are in our vaccination campaign and there is a significant anti-Vaxxer lobby like everywhere else in the world,” said Majumdar.
“Use the IPL as a platform to get the right message across, about vaccinations, hygiene protocols, wearing masks and everything else.”
One such example is Ashwin of Delhi Capitals, who tweeted about donating plasma to support Covid-19 patients for its 10.3 million followers.
He’s also changed his profile name so it now shows a simple message: “Stay home, stay safe! Take your vaccine.”