New Delhi: The Spirit of Cricket captain’s pledge is as integral a part of the Indian Premier League opening ceremony as is the swashbuckling show put on by various Indian and international artists to kick-start every edition of one of the most successful domestic T20 leagues in the world. But this time round, the captain’s pledge is set to be filmed in advance on April 6 and the recording will be played out during the opening ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium on April 7 before the opening game between defending champions Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said that the move was made to ensure that none of the four franchises who play on April 8 — Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab — miss the presence of their captains on the eve of their campaign opening games. The opening ceremony was initially planned for April 6 at the Cricket Club of India before the decision was made to host it at the Wankhede prior to the opening game.
“Having the captain’s pledge at the Trident Hotel in Nariman Point on April 6 means that all the leaders can go back to their respective teams before their opening games. With the opening ceremony now on April 7, having the pledge live would mean keeping Virat Kohli (RCB), Gautam Gambhir (DD), Dinesh Karthik (KKR) and R Ashwin (KXIP) away from their teams on the eve of their opening game on April 8. So, if we have the event in advance, they can happily strategise and make last-minute plans before the game,” the official said.
The Spirit of Cricket segment during the opening ceremony is the signing of a pledge by the 8 captains prior to the start of the season and it sees all of them share the stage for the only time in the tournament as the IPL trophy is put to play by the defending champion.
Interestingly, a member of one of the franchises playing on April 8 applauded the decision and said that it wasn’t the most ideal situation to have the captain stay away from the team on the eve of the match. His sentiments were further echoed by a senior official of another franchise.
“See, while it is up to the BCCI to decide on these things, having the captain’s pledge a day in advance augurs really well for the four teams that are playing on April 8. It is the opening game for you in the tournament and you don’t really wish for your skipper to stay away from the team as there are many last-minute plans that need to be chalked out going into the season opener,” he told CricketNext.
Interestingly the itinerary for the opening ceremony is to be decided on March 16 as BCCI members and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) continue to debate on the plan of action for the day. While the CoA has refused to allow an increase in the budget for the opening ceremony, some board officials feel that the opening of the IPL is one of the most-awaited events in the country.
“Some of the top international artists have come and performed at the opening over the years. It is a much-awaited celebration of 50 days of non-stop cricket that follows. To not allow an increase in the budget is unfair. But, we have a meeting again on March 16 and we will decide on the final plan of action on that day.
“The concept of having separate openings at the various venues in the previous edition was a huge dampener and failed to create an impression in the minds of the viewers and that means we need to be all the more careful with our planning this time round,” the official said.