Did BCCI bully South African cricketers into playing IPL longer and risking injury before World Cup?

Dale Steyn
Dale Steyn YouTube grab

The injury concerns of their fast bowlers have been troubling South Africa and endangering the team's World Cup prospects. Both Dale Steyn and Kagiso Rabada had to withdraw from the Indian Premier League after suffering injury scares. There is still no clarity as to whether these two will be able to participate in the mega event that begins on May 30, though chances are they would.

But, if Times Live, a South African news website is to be believed, the continued participation of South African players in the T20 league was the result of pressure put on by Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) on Cricket South Africa (CSA).

Coach's concern

The website reports that South Africa's coach Ottis Gibson wanted his team's members to return home before the end of first week of May. He supposedly expressed this wish to the board, who in turn, placed a request to BCCI. Then, the report states, the Indian board responded by threatening to cancel the three ODI matches that their team is expected to play during the tour of South Africa in 2021/22 season.

Responding to these claims of the website, CSA refuted them. They even dismissed the part about Gibson putting his request to chief executive of the board. "That's not true at all. We are not aware of such a request made to the executive," the organisation responded to the news platform.

But interestingly, while issuing these denials, CSA did admit that, unlike Australian and English cricket boards, they do not possess the luxury or economic power to pull their players out of IPL at will. "Our understanding is that' as is the case with New Zealand' the Windies' etc., we, as CSA, do our best to assist our players in maximising their IPL income" a carefully worded reply by the board representative stated.

Major worries

It needs to be remembered that South Africa are facing grave injury issues with their first-choice pace bowling line-up. Two members of their World Cup squad, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi got injured even before the IPL and couldn't take part in the league. Of the two, Nortje has already been ruled out of the ICC event and has been replaced by Chris Morris in the 15-men squad.

Kagiso Rabada
Kagiso Rabada Reuters

Dale Steyn, who was kept out of the early matches of his franchise team – Royal Challengers Bangalore – due to injury concerns, played two matches in the latter stages but then had to be pulled out again due to concerns with his shoulder. , on the other hand, was the leading wicket-taker in IPL until he found himself sustaining an injury at the business end of the event. He had to return to South Africa and the board is fretting over the state of his fitness.

Needless to say, if Rabada and Steyn end up missing matches in the World Cup, or even the entire tournament, there will be a lot of anger at their participation in IPL, regardless of whether it was BCCI's pressure or CSA's laxity that allowed it.