The 13th season of the Indian Premier League is nearing its conclusion with the playoffs taking place next week.
Not that it is of any interest to me whatsoever.
I loathe the IPL. Test cricketers should not be jetting off to India – or the UAE, as is the case this season – to play a T20 tournament at the expense of either rest or game time in first-class cricket.
My frustration is compounded by interviews with Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler, both of whom are playing for the Rajasthan Royals, about how tough they’re finding life inside the bio-secure bubbles that are now commonplace in the sporting world to allow events to go ahead during the COVID pandemic.
Both players were in the England bio-secure bubble for the entire European summer, right the way through from the end of June to mid-September before flying straight to the UAE for the IPL at the end of the one-day series against Australia.
Regardless of whether or not the Rajasthan Royals manage to make it to the finals, Archer and Buttler will still have spent the best part of four months in bio-secure bubbles with next to no time spent at home.
Once the IPL is done and dusted on November 10, it won’t be long before England’s tour of South Africa, a tour that Buttler is hoping to be selected for. Archer is also likely to be named in the squad.
Sympathy should be limited towards any cricketer who has chosen to fit in a spell in the IPL in between international duties.
While I completely understand that isolation away from family back home can be difficult to deal with, it must be remembered that the IPL is voluntary.
As such, seeing as players have chosen to play in the IPL, the onus is on them to accept the consequences.
Eoin Morgan, England’s one-day captain, has predicted that players will start withdrawing from series as the mental toll of life inside the bubble becomes too much.
Has the damage already been done, though?
Alarm bells should have been ringing even before players departed for the IPL.
Right from the start of the European summer in July, it was recognised that series played inside bio-secure bubbles were hard slogs to get through.
There’s been plenty of talk about the potential for players to burn out but no action to do something about it.
For as long as bio-secure bubbles are necessary to allow tours to go ahead, players and governing bodies alike need to decide how much cricket is too much cricket to play.
This includes prioritising which formats a player should be playing because it will be unsustainable for a player to play all three formats all the time. That will be dependent on central contracts and a player’s individual preference.
Otherwise, if players like Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler continue to give themselves the same workload as they are now and struggle their way through, I’m afraid it’ll be a case of you’ve made your bed, now lie in it.