The Indian Premier League 2019 is scheduled to begin on 23 March 2019 and the T20 extravaganza is expected to run for almost 60 days like every year. However, this upcoming season would be completely different than any other for Indian cricket. Every year, it is seen as an amalgamation of the world's best players with the local Indian talents, truly living up to its campaigning tagline for a long time "Talent meets Opportunity". Without a shadow of a doubt, it has lived up to this promise.
However, the 2019 edition ends a mere fortnight before the 2019 Cricket World Cup is scheduled to begin (30 May 2019). This would be the first occasion wherein the IPL would take place before a World Cup tournament. Both in 2011 and in 2015, the World Cup tournament preceded the IPL. Hence, the concerns and stakes on workload management will be more than ever seen in the history of IPL.
The players representing their countries would be more focused towards winning the biggest prize there is in international cricket. Considering this, the biggest concern for these players, along with the ten cricket boards of the participating countries, would be to avoid any injuries or fatigue that may jeopardize a country's chances of winning the World Cup.
The participation of the biggest international stars from countries like Australia and England has already been curtailed by their respective cricketing bodies, keeping in mind the workload management ahead of the World Cup.
Now let's talk about Indian cricket. Indian Premier League, as the name suggests, is a tournament primarily aimed at the betterment of Indian cricket. But at the end of the day, theoretically, it should be a domestic T20 tournament and should not overshadow international cricket.
However, if we go by the scheduling of the tournament over the years, the contrary has turned out to the truth. Due to the overtly commercial nature of the tournament, we cannot expect the Indian stars to be rested for the number of matches which would help them to recuperate from the rigorous playing and travelling schedules.
India's history with injury and fatigue management during the IPL has not been very good, with almost every edition of IPL witnessing injury concerns for one or the other key international star. In the year 2011, the IPL began only a few days after the end of that year's World Cup. With no time to recover from a long season, the highs of a historic World Cup victory were followed by a string of overseas losses in England and Australia.
No Indian cricket fan would want to see his favorite hero miss out on being in that World Cup squad only because some local T20 franchise wanted him to be on the field, even though he should not have been there. Therefore, the BCCI and the franchises need to chalk out a plan to avoid any injuries to the players who are bound to be selected for the World Cup.
A closer look needs to be taken on the rigid scheduling and overshadowing nature of the Indian Premier League. This situation could have been avoided if the IPL was scheduled after the World Cup like it has always been, or even during the latter half of the year.
India is the only cricketing nation that completely halts its international cricket for the sake of a domestic T20 tournament. Perhaps, it is time that the organizers consider foregoing the commercial gains during the years wherein the nation is looking forward to a bigger prize - the World Cup.