Reacting to the Bombay High Court’s order to shift 13 IPL matches out of drought-hit Maharashtra, former India captains Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid have said that cricket should not be mixed with such a serious issue. The High Court, on Wednesday, ordered that all IPL matches after April 30 should be shifted out of Maharashtra owing to the acute water crisis in the state.
“It’s a serious issue and the fact that so many people are dying because of shortage of water is serious but linking it to IPL will trivialise it,” Dravid told NDTV. “How can a drought be as important as cricket? If not having IPL will solve the problem, then we should stop playing cricket.”
Echoing the sentiment, Gavaskar said the sport is being singled out to rake up controversies.
“What do you think has been happening for the last 9-10 years? It’s always something or the other cropping up before or during the IPL,” Gavaskar told NDTV. “Whether it’s a soft target or not, yes it is a soft target.”
Gavaskar said while the water crisis, which has led to farmer suicides, is a serious issue, it cannot be mixed with cricket.
“Farmer’s lives have to be absolute priority. You cannot trifle with people who put bread on our table. That cannot be trivialised at all,” he said. “Is water being saved by not having IPL matches? If yes, how can it be done? The BCCI did guarantee that they will not use potable water. Franchises and BCCI, I believe, also offered to make a donation to the chief minister’s relief fund. Those were significant and good gestures.”
Gavaskar said that if water conservation could be done by stopping cricket matches, then other activities should also be checked.
“Why only cricket has been singled out? What about gardening, swimming? You can go on and on. Only cricket has been singled out,” he said. “Not just in this, even when there is something political, cricket is singled out. When it comes to having ties with some country or not, it’s cricket that is talked about.”
Gavaskar said water conservation requires a long-term plan: “This is something that has to be done over a period of time. In the last two-three years, there has been less rain in Maharashtra and the country. The national government and state governments have to think of how how to solve this problem. Everywhere there is this problem and with global warming, this will only increase.
“A policy has to be evolved so that we know that in case there is less rain, what is to be done. It can’t be done by not just playing some matches in the IPL.”