With IPL 2020 confirmed to be played in UAE, under a bio-secure bubble, the franchises have started planning activities for their players on non-match days. This is due to the fact that thanks to the Coronavirus threat, they won’t be allowed to leave the bubble under any circumstances.
Moreover, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to give the green signal for teams to get their immediate family to the UAE during the course of the tournament.
An official of a franchise talked with IANS and said that that player engagement on non-match days is high on agenda for all the teams this year.
"It is an area of focus for sure. In fact, I would say this is the biggest challenge this year. When you realize that the boys will be restricted for close to two months, you need to also provide them with options. Xbox and virtual-gaming facilities will rule the roost. Don't be too surprised if they play more FIFA than cricket in these two months of IPL,” the official said.
"Also, foosball is something that is big among players, as is pool and table tennis. You cannot just brief the players and tell them that do not step out. You need to create an atmosphere where the players are excited to hit the team room and engage among themselves on non-match days," the official explained.
Another official of a different franchise echoed similar feelings and said that planning is getting creative when it comes to team room during the upcoming IPL season.
"See, watching movies on Netflix and all is fine. But that you can do even in your own room. We need to work on things we can do out of the box to engage the players. It will be a challenge for sure, especially if the families are not traveling with the team. This is something that we will get to know in the next few days from the BCCI. We do have a meeting planned with them post the IPL Governing Council meeting on Sunday," the official said.
It has been reported that the franchises have requested BCCI to allow immediate families of the players travel with the team, atleast in batches and not for the whole duration of the tournament.
"See, the best part about UAE is that if you have a negative COVID-19 report, you do not need to go into quarantine. So, a few franchises have requested for the players to be allowed to have their wife or girlfriend come in for a small duration. They are not asking for two-month permission, but more of a say 10-12 days' go-ahead. After all, these are trying times and nothing beats having your near and dear ones around,” the official said.
"Hopefully a call on the same will be taken in the IPL GC on Sunday," an official of an IPL franchise said.