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Rajasthan Royals skipper Steve Smith expressed his disappointment in not being able to play the IPL in front of fans in India but admitted that cricket returning full-fledged unarguably mattered the most. Smith also feels that all players might be at the same level due to lack of match practice.
The biggest T20 tournament in the world, the Indian Premier League, in the wake of the Covid-19 cases spiralling out of control in India, will return to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) six years after the first leg of the tournament was hosted in the same country. Chairman Brijesh Patel confirmed that the tournament will be played in the UAE between September 19 and November 8 and the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) general secretary Mubashshir Usmani, on Friday, even hinted at the possibility of having crowds in the stands.
However, that still won’t match the crazy atmosphere that is usually found back in India according to Steve Smith, who admitted that he was disappointed that the IPL was not being played in India in the presence of fans. The Rajasthan Royals skipper, however, stated that players would be ‘itching to get back on to the field’ and play competitive cricket for the first time in over 5 months and added that adaptability will be key for everyone heading into the tournament, given it will be played in conditions which not too many cricketers are well versed with.
“Part of being a professional cricketer is to adapt to any condition you are faced with and that is going to be the clear message from me and the coaching staff. Conditions in Dubai can be similar to what you get in India or it can be different, it’s about adapting on the run to what the condition suits,” Smith told reporters via video conferencing during the launch of Rajasthan Royals’ behind-the-scenes documentary ‘Inside Story’, reported TOI.
“Couple of players have experience of playing there before. The IPL was there in 2014, so a lot of people have played there before. I think guys will be just jumping out of their skins to play some quality cricket. Obviously it’s disappointing that it’s not in India. We would have absolutely loved to play there.”
Australia will lock horns with England in a limited-overs series prior to the IPL, but barring these two aforementioned nations and West Indies, none of the other players participating in the IPL would have played any competitive cricket since the start of March. This, according to the Royals skipper, will create a level playing field in the competition. The 31-year-old also lauded each and every individual’s innovative efforts to practice during lockdown in order to stay in touch with the sport.
“Yeah, it has been challenging. A lot of players haven’t played any cricket. From that point of view its sort of an even contest. Everyone’s going in there (Dubai) with the same sort of preparation, which is nice. Guys are trying to get their cricket back.
“Riyan (Parag) was telling me that he was hitting a ball in his backyard. People were trying to play their cricket in any way they can. It certainly will get very exciting when IPL rolls for sure.”
Smith took over as the Rajasthan Royals skipper from Ajinkya Rahane mid-way through the 2019 season and the franchise, last year, confirmed that the Australian will continue as the club’s skipper for the 2020 edition.