As India records a daily average of 3,40,000-plus Covid-19 cases over the past week, British football legend Gary Linekar and celebrated English broadcaster Piers Morgan have lambasted the Indian cricket board for continuing with the Indian Premier League (IPL) amid India’s national crisis.
England football legend Linekar, who is now a TV commentator, tweeted: “I love the @IPL as much as any cricket fan, but it seems so terribly wrong for it to continue given the Covid catastrophe that’s currently occurring in India. People are dying faster than runs are being scored for crying out loud.”
Morgan sought to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the ‘horrific Covid crisis’ and added that cricket was ‘irrelevant’ in the current scenario.
“The Indian Premier League should not continue given the horrific Covid crisis in India due to Prime Minister @narendramodi’s woefully irresponsible leadership. The country’s sole focus should be on the raging pandemic. Cricket is irrelevant,” tweeted Morgan.
The IPL has started to be shaken from within, with several foreign players pulling out to get back to the safety of their homes. Australians Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, and Andrew Tye, besides India’s Ravichandran Ashwin have already pulled out due to reasons related to Covid/life in bio-bubble. It is rumoured that more players could walk out on IPL in days to come.
Even as the IPL action was shifting from Chennai and Mumbai to Ahmedabad and Delhi, two of the worst affected cities where oxygen and beds in hospitals are posing a big challenge to the governments, the country was undergoing its worst surge since the pandemic started wreaking havoc in March last year.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has insisted that IPL matches would go on, claiming that they provide relief and entertainment to people during the Covid crisis. Others strongly argue that when people are dying in families who would prefer entertainment.
The combined number of fresh Covid-19 cases reported on April 26 and 27 stood at an unprecedented 6,83,944 while the country saw a jump of nearly 38,000 cases between Monday and Tuesday.
A couple of days ago, India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist, rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra, said he was completely devastated with the sufferings of Covid-19 patients, and pointed out the “complete breakdown of the medical system” in his write-up.
“Cricketers and officials can’t just live in their own bubble and be totally deaf or blind to whatever is going outside. I can only imagine that while you’re having these IPL games, outside the stadium you have ambulances going to hospitals,” he has written.
The unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases has exposed the poor medical infrastructure in India, with thousands dying due to lack of medicines and oxygen or being turned away from hospitals due to lack of beds/oxygen.
An editorial in England’s The Guardian newspaper said: “There are certain cash cows that cannot be criticised, but even more protected are the holy cows, such as the IPL. The BCCI is run by Jay Shah, the secretary, and he reports not so much to the president of the BCCI, Sourav Ganguly, as to Amit Shah, the home minister of India and one of most powerful men in the country. Jay also happens to be Amit’s son.”
Amid the raging crisis in India, Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins, who also represents Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL, has donated US $50,000 to PM Cares fund and former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee has pledged one Bitcoin (approximately Rs 41 lakh) for India’s fight against Covid-19.