The opening lines of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is as follows: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…”
He might well have been writing about IPL 2020.
This tournament is being played against the backdrop of a world in crisis – a global health pandemic, economic calamity, despair and depression in almost every community in every country in every continent.
Perhaps, in this season of darkness, IPL is providing a burst of light, a moment of excitement, a happy distraction, is a beacon of hope amid the gloom, is raising a smile through the tears.
Maybe, in these very strange times, this 13th edition of the tournament can be the most important, the most significant IPL of all.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying cricket alone can make anything better, but cricket can generate some good news amid all the bad news, and so assume a valuable role.
Here in the United Arab Emirates, the players, coaches and staff are living in our respective bubbles. We barely speak to anyone outside our squad – there can be four teams practising at one venue at the same time and nobody is allowed to mix – so we spend all of our time within our units. We get to know each other better. We talk about our families and our lives.
Of course, we miss the people, the crowds and the special buzz of an IPL in India. At RCB, we miss our deafening Chinnaswamy! Yet, within the broader context, we are safe, well organised and extremely grateful.
And when we play, when we go out to bat or bowl or field, we are mindful of literally hundreds of millions people throughout India and around the world watching the matches on their televisions at home.
Many, too many of these people may be experiencing severe health and or economic challenges, and it is nothing less than a privilege for us as cricketers to have the opportunity to entertain and excite, to generate some light and joy in what currently seems a dark, sad world.
This is a unique period in all of our lives, and this is starting to feel like a very special IPL.
(The writer plays for RCB. The views are personal.)