BCCI President Sourav Ganguly on Monday said the Board will do all it can to ensure that India's home series against England remains in the country and domestic tournaments kick off at some point despite the "fluid" COVID-19 situation. India's COVID-19 case load has gone past 60 lakh and the death toll has surged beyond 95,000. England are scheduled to tour India next year between January and March for five Tests, three ODIs and three T20 Internationals.
"...priority is to make this (series against England) happen in India. We will try to make this happen on Indian grounds. The advantage in UAE is they have three stadiums (Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai)," he said in a media interaction here addressing speculation that UAE could be the host for India given the COVID case count.
BCCI has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Emirates Cricket Board for greater cooperation in conducting matches there. "We also have the same facility in Mumbai -- CCI, Wankhede and DY Patil. We also have Eden Gardens. We have to create a bubble. We want to hold our cricket in India, that's where the game is, that's where the heart is. But we are monitoring the COVID situation," Ganguly said after being named brand ambassador of the Bengal Peerless group.
"Everything is fluid. It's been hard for the last six months to keep everything in order. You want your cricket to happen. You want lives to get back to normal, there are players involved. But you also want to have a close look at the COVID situation," Ganguly added.
On to domestic cricket and under normal circumstances, the BCCI would have already started its mega season with Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy, the U-23 CK Nayudu Trophy, Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy, and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. In 2019-20 it hosted 2036 domestic games across various age groups in the men's and women's category but creating a bio-bubble for so many teams across the country will be next to impossible given the virus threat.
"We are monitoring it. We want to have our domestic season. We have all the combinations, situations ready in our mind. We will try and make it happen as much as we can," he reiterated.
Ganguly was also asked about the lackluster IPL form of recently-retired ex-captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He backed the iconic finisher to come good for Chennai Super kings. "In the current situation, it will take some time for him to get back to his old touch. He played a cricket match after about one year and six months. It's not easy however good you are. It will take some time," he said.
"When Dhoni was in prime form and was the captain, then I was in broadcast and had said that he should bat at number four," he recalled.
Ganguly was content with the fact that the IPL overcame the pandemic to go ahead after months of delay, albeit on foreign shores (the UAE). "Nobody was sure that how much of IPL will happen, or whether it would happen at all. The situation was in nobody's control. But we had to do the IPL. We wanted our lives to be back," he said.
"The only challenge for IPL was, there were about 300 people in a city. For a bilateral, there are about 50-60 people in a city. The more the people, the harder it becomes.
"Touchwood it's going good. I must congratulate the players. It's been hardest for them because it's not easy to stay in a hotel room for two months. Lot of credit to them," he added.
Ganguly was non-committal on the mega players' auction ahead of the next IPL season, which is now due in few months' time. "No decision has been taken. Let this IPL happen and then we will decide. Normally we get 10 months' break between two IPLs but this time we are left with just four-five months' time," he said.
The former opener was also asked about a possible farewell match for Dhoni, who retired from international cricket last month. "I spoke to him on the day of his retirement. I could not during the IPL as we can't reach them. They are in a bubble," he said.
"I've not spoken to him on this. But Dhoni deserves everything for what he has achieved for India. (However) It's very difficult to predict the future because everything is fluid. It's not the same situation now. Can't just say 'you come and play here'," he added.