Steve Smith believes playing in the Indian Premier League later this year would be an enjoyable alternative option if the T20 World Cup is postponed.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) last week stated it is still planning for the World Cup to start in Australia on October 18, but other options are being explored due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that the competition will be put back to next year, with the IPL - which could not get under way as scheduled in March - taking place instead of the global event.

Smith, who returned to training with New South Wales on Monday, would prefer to play in a World Cup, but the former Australia captain would also relish the opportunity to lead the Rajasthan Royals later this year. 

The top-ranked Test batsman in the world said: "I think when you're playing for your country at a World Cup, that's the pinnacle for one-day or T20 cricket, so of course I'd prefer to play in that.

"But if that doesn't happen and the IPL's there, and they postpone [the T20 World Cup], then so be it. IPL's also a terrific tournament as a domestic tournament. 

"That's out of everyone's control at the moment, players are just doing what we're told and going where we need to go and playing whatever's on at that stage.

"I guess there'll be some more news about it soon, probably some decisions to be made soon, so I'm sure we'll all find out and know where we're going to be.

"I personally haven't really thought about it, I think it'd just be going off the advice of the professionals and the governments and essentially doing what we're told.

"If that happens then great, if not then there's just so much going on in the world right now that cricket kind of seems a little bit irrelevant. So, we'll get back when we're told to and until then it's sit tight, get fit and strong and freshen up mentally."

Cricket Australia are also considering a request from the England and Wales Cricket Board to tour England for a limited-overs series in September, two months later than planned.

It is 52 years since Manchester United beat Benfica to win their first European Cup, while Roy Halladay pitched a perfect game for Philadelphia Phillies on this day in 2010.

English giants United lifted the famous trophy thanks to a couple of goals from Bobby Charlton in a 4-1 win at Wembley – their first of three continental triumphs.

As for Halladay, he retired all 27 of Florida Marlins' batters – striking out 11 – en route to hurling a no-hitter at Sun Life Stadium.

Today is also a meaningful date in the history of the Utah Jazz and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who achieved memorable sporting feats on May 29.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.


1968 - Man Utd prevail at Wembley

Having progressed through four rounds of two-legged ties to reach the final on English soil, United faced the daunting task of taking on Benfica.

The Portuguese heavyweights had won the competition twice before and boasted all-time great striker Eusebio in their ranks.

But it was Matt Busby's side who took the lead after a goalless first half through Charlton, only for Jaime Graca to equalise for Benfica.

Alex Stepney then produced a big save to deny Eusebio and that proved to be a pivotal moment in the final as George Best, Brian Kidd and Charlton were all on target in extra time.

 

1997 - Stockton sends Jazz to first NBA Finals

More than two decades on, it is still regarded as arguably the biggest moment in Utah's history.

Trailing the Houston Rockets by 10 points with 2:59 left in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Jazz went on a 17-4 run that culminated in John Stockton's buzzer-beating three-pointer.

He let fly from 26 feet and found the target to earn the Jazz a dramatic 103-100 victory, setting up a showdown with Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls.

It was the first time Utah had reached the Finals, though it ultimately ended in heartbreak as the Bulls battled to a 90-86 win on home soil.

 

2010 - Halladay's perfect game

Halladay is one of only 23 people to have pitched the perfect game in Major League Baseball history, doing so in style on a steamy night in south Florida.

What makes the achievement all the more incredible, though, is that it came in just his 11th start for the Phillies after being traded by the Toronto Blue Jays.

He needed no more than 12 pitches in any inning except the seventh, throwing 115 in total, 72 for strikes. Of his 11 strikeouts, four came by way of sinkers.

Halladay's perfect pitch came 20 days after the Oakland Athletics' Dallas Braden had done likewise – the shortest span between two perfect games since 1880.

 

2016 - Hyderabad emerge victorious in high-scoring final

With David Warner leading from the front, Hyderabad won their maiden Indian Premier League title with an eight-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Warner top-scored with 69 off 38 balls and Ben Cutting registered an unbeaten 39 off 15 in Hyderabad's 208-7 at Bangalore's M Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The skipper then stepped up by marshalling his bowlers as they held off an onslaught, the hosts finishing just short with their reply of 200-7.

It was the third final Bangalore had lost, having also done so in 2009 and 2011, while Hyderabad reached the final again in 2018 but lost to Chennai Super Kings.

Lionel Messi delivered a moment of history for Barcelona on this day in 2009, as Manchester United lost the Champions League final in Rome.

Arsene Wenger also has fond memories of May 27 from his Arsenal career, having achieved an unprecedented FA Cup feat at Wembley three years ago.

Shane Watson powered Chennai Super Kings to 2018 IPL glory, while back in 1995, the great Jonah Lomu scored the first tries of a famous New Zealand career.

Join us in looking back on some memorable moments from this day in years gone by.

 

1995 – Jonah Lomu scores his first tries for New Zealand

One of rugby union's all-time most famous faces made his mark on this day back in 1995.

Lomu scored his first two tries for New Zealand as they claimed a 43-19 win over Ireland in a Pool C clash at the Rugby World Cup in Johannesburg.

He finished the tournament as joint-top try-scorer on seven as the All Blacks reached the final, where they were famously beaten by hosts South Africa.

Lomu tragically died at the age of 40 in November 2015.

2018 – Shane Watson scores unbeaten century as Chennai Super Kings win the IPL

It is two years since a spectacular innings from Watson secured Indian Premier League glory for Chennai Super Kings.

Questioned for putting their faith in a squad of players approaching the end of their careers, it was fitting that Chennai's triumph would be sealed by 36-year-old Watson's unbeaten 117 from 57 balls.

Watson hit eight sixes and 11 fours to dominate the contest, the Super Kings easing to an eight-wicket win with nine balls remaining.

 

2009 – Barcelona beat Manchester United in the Champions League final

Barcelona became champions of Europe on this day 11 years ago, denying Manchester United a piece of history and securing their own place in the record books.

Holders United were looking to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions Leagues in the modern format but were dealt an early blow when Samuel Eto'o squeezed a 10th-minute shot past Edwin van der Sar.

A header from Lionel Messi – a goal he still considers the most important of his career – made it 2-0 in the second half as Barca won the treble for the first time in their history in Pep Guardiola's first season in charge.

2017 – Arsenal beat Chelsea in FA Cup final as Wenger wins the trophy for a seventh time

Arsene Wenger became the most successful manager in FA Cup history three years ago when he lifted the trophy for a seventh time.

Premier League champions Chelsea were favourites, but a fourth-minute goal from Alexis Sanchez set the tone for the final.

Victor Moses' red card 68 minutes in made life tougher for the Blues and, although Diego Costa grabbed an equaliser, Aaron Ramsey struck what proved to be the winner three minutes later.

Aside from Wenger's feat – his 10th major trophy as Gunners boss – it was a final fondly remembered by fans for the performance of Per Mertsesacker, who was outstanding at the heart of defence.

There is growing optimism the Indian Premier League (IPL) could still be staged in 2020.

The competition, originally scheduled to begin in March, was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic and it had been feared there would be no opportunity for it to take place this year.

However, Rahul Johri, CEO of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), underlined the governing body's desire for the IPL to go ahead.

The action would not be able to begin until after India's monsoon season, which runs until the end of September, which would put it in a scheduling conflict with the Twenty20 World Cup, due to start in October.

But Johri appeared confident over the prospect of the IPL going ahead, suggesting it would provide a boost for fans and the economy.

"IPL is one of the greatest engagers. More people watched the IPL last year than those who voted for general elections," he said at the TCM Sports Huddle Webinar.

"For sponsors, cricket is a leader and it will lead the way. The recovery will be sharper than a V-shaped recovery.

"We will be guided by the government guidelines. Our advisory says: IPL is suspended till further notice.

"We are engaging with various agencies. After the current phase of lockdown ends, there is the monsoon. Cricketing activities can start only after monsoon. By then, hopefully things will improve."

Johri was insistent that players from all over the world would have to be involved for it to constitute a proper IPL campaign, all but ruling out a league consisting entirely of homegrown talent.

"The flavour of IPL is that best players of the world come and play, and everyone is committed to maintaining that flow," he said.

"But it will be a step-by-step process. We can't expect normalisation tomorrow."

India is currently under government lockdown until May 31.

There is a strong cricket theme running through sporting history on May 21 – as well as an unforgettable outing for Manchester United.

Saeed Anwar dazzled during a stunning innings for Pakistan that put him in the one-day record books, while the date is also notable in the history of Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians.

As for United, they were crowned champions of Europe for a third time in their history, but only after battling back from the brink to beat familiar foes in a dramatic final.

 

1997 – Anwar powers Pakistan with record-breaking knock

Anwar set an ODI record as he thrashed India's attack around Chennai, the opener making 194 from just 146 deliveries.

The left-hander hit 22 fours and five sixes – including three in a row off leg-spinner Anil Kumble – as he contributed the majority of Pakistan's final total of 327-5 in the Independence Cup fixture. The next highest score in the innings? 39.

Sachin Tendulkar eventually dismissed the centurion with the score on 297, though he made just four with the bat in India's unsuccessful reply. Despite a hundred for Rahul Dravid, they were bowled out for 292 to lose by 35 runs.

Anwar sat at the top of the highest scores list alone for 12 years until Zimbabwe's Charles Coventry matched his effort. However, in February 2010, Tendulkar set a new benchmark when he became the first batsman to score a double century in a one-dayer, doing so against South Africa.

2008 – Red Devils hit the spot to be crowned European champions

Moscow staged an all-Premier League final with a dramatic twist, with Chelsea missing their chance before United sealed glory.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opening goal for the Red Devils when he headed past Petr Cech, but Chelsea levelled before the break when Frank Lampard reacted quickly to a deflection to score.

There were no further goals in the remainder of the 90 minutes or extra time, meaning spot-kicks were required. Ronaldo was surprisingly the first to miss, meaning John Terry had the chance to seal victory with the Blues' fifth effort.

Yet the Chelsea skipper crucially slipped and lost his footing at the point of contact, sending his strike against a post. Into sudden-death kicks it went and, with the score at 6-5, Edwin van der Sar guessed correctly to deny Nicolas Anelka and secure the trophy in the Russian capital.

2017 – Johnson does just enough as Mumbai win again

Mumbai Indians claimed a third IPL title thanks to a thrilling one-run victory over the now-defunct Rising Pune Supergiant in Hyderabad.

The eventual champions slipped to 65-5 in their innings but Krunal Pandya led a lower-order recovery, making 47 to get his side up to 129-8. Pune reached 98-2 in reply but despite a half-century from Steve Smith, came up agonisingly short.

After a late collapse left them needing 11 off the last over, they lost two wickets off as many deliveries at the start as Mitchell Johnson held his nerve with the game – and the trophy – on the line.

Needing four off the final ball to win (and three to tie to force a Super Over), Dan Christian was only able to pick up two as Washington Sundar was run out.

Ravi Shastri believes bilateral action and the Indian Premier League (IPL) should take priority over global competitions when the green light is given for cricket to resume.

The coronavirus crisis has ground the vast majority of sport to a halt worldwide, with many events cancelled or suspended.

It was not possible to get the IPL under way at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers are still hopeful of rescheduling the extravaganza for later in the year.

There are also doubts over whether the ICC Men's T20 World Cup in Australia, scheduled for October and November, will go ahead.

India head coach Shastri thinks it is too early to be thinking about staging major international tournaments.

He told the Times of India: "I wouldn't put too much emphasis on world events right now.

"Stay at home, ensure domestic cricket comes back to normal, cricketers at all levels - international, first-class, et cetera - all get back on the field. That's the most important bit. Second: Start with bilateral cricket.

"If we had to choose between hosting a World Cup and a bilateral tour, obviously, we'd settle for the bilateral.

"Instead of 15 teams flying in, we'd settle for one team flying in and playing an entire bilateral series at one or two grounds.

"When cricket resumes, we could give the IPL a priority. The difference between an international tournament and the IPL is that the IPL can be played between one or two cities and the logistics will be easier to manage.

"The same thing with bilaterals - it'll be easier for us to tour one country and play there at specific grounds than 15-16 teams flying in during these times. The International Cricket Council needs to look at this objectively."

Brendon McCullum said the inaugural Indian Premier League game "changed his life forever" as he recalled the magical 158 not out he scored 12 years ago.

McCullum lit up the opening match of the 2008 campaign as he inspired Kolkata Knight Riders to victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a star-studded affair.

He struck 10 fours and 13 sixes in a 73-ball innings, his historic performance setting the IPL on the road to success.

Asked for his recollections of the match, McCullum told KKR's official website: "I never really got too nervous throughout my cricket career, but on that occasion, I'll admit I was very nervous. I think none of us really knew what this tournament was going to be like.

"We all loved the idea of it, we loved the fanfare, but all the eyeballs of the cricketing world got turned towards Bangalore that night. I feel so lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity [to be a part of that spectacle].

"You talk about sliding doors, and moments in your careers and in lives. That night, my life changed completely in the space of those three hours or actually, even an hour, hour and a half.

"Why was I the one who got that opportunity to be able to go and face [the] first [delivery] with Sourav Ganguly? How did I get a chance to play in the first game, have the first opportunity to bat in such a huge tournament for world cricket?

"How was I even able to grab that opportunity? How much luck did I have along the way? Honestly, I don't know the answers to any of these, but what I do know is that it changed my life forever.

"It changed my family's life forever, and I feel very blessed and very humble and very lucky. What I did that night was something I didn't think I was capable of achieving. I couldn't have done it without my team-mates, that's 100 per cent sure. It was just a surreal moment in time where you just look back and say, 'How lucky was I?'

"I was just a young kid back then, so I was so in awe of [co-owner and Bollywood star] Shah Rukh Khan who was such a mega star.

"I was so out of my depth even just around the superstars in my cricket team, let alone the megastar who owned our cricket team! I don't remember many reactions in detail, but what I do remember is what Sourav Ganguly said to me that night.

"Dada said, 'Your life is changed forever', and I didn't quite know what he meant at the time, but [in hindsight], I 100 per cent agree with him. Shah Rukh, in the months which followed or the days and the weeks and the months which followed, he said, 'You'll always be with the Knight Riders.'

The inaugural Indian Premier League began with a bang when Brendon McCullum blasted an unbeaten 158 exactly 12 years ago.

McCullum's devastating display of hitting provided a glimpse of what was to come for the world's premier Twenty20 franchise competition.

To mark the anniversary, we take a look at some of sport's great curtain-raisers.

 

Indomitable Lions tame Maradona et al in Milan

As the defending champions, Argentina had the honour of kicking off the 1990 World Cup in Italy and were expected to encounter few difficulties against Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lions may have never won at a World Cup finals before, but 90 minutes later that had been rectified, Francois Omam-Biyik heading in a winner that was embarrassingly shovelled over the line by Nery Pumpido.

That was only half the story, though. Cameroon finished the game with nine men, Benjamin Massing following Andre Kana-Biyik in being sent off for an outrageous lunge on Claudio Caniggia that remains one of the enduring World Cup images.

Take nothing away from Cameroon, though. They went on to reach the quarter-finals - beaten by England - as the world finally took notice of African football.

 

Springboks take first step on road to glory

The honour of playing the first game at the Rugby World Cup typically goes to the hosts, and in 1995 the opening fixture pitted South Africa against reigning champions Australia in Cape Town.

The Springboks had only been permitted to return to international rugby in 1992 once apartheid was abolished, but, roared on by a partisan Newlands crowd that included future great Bryan Habana, they saw off the Wallabies 27-18.

It proved to be the catalyst for South Africa, who would go on to be crowned World Cup winners, a victory that did much to unite a nation divided for so long.

McCullum's IPL masterclass

T20 was still in its infancy in 2008 when Kolkata Knight Riders opener McCullum came to the crease, and there was little indication of what was to come when the New Zealander failed to score off his first six balls faced.

He soon got his eye in. McCullum would go on to smash 158 off 73 balls, including 13 sixes and 10 fours, as the Knight Riders cruised to a 140-run win against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a better start than even the IPL architects could have hoped for.

Only five men have recorded higher scores than McCullum's knock that day, but none have been as important as the display which showed the IPL was a force rather than a farce.

 

Lleyton Blewitt at Wimbledon

Lleyton Hewitt stepped onto Centre Court on June 23, 2003 as the defending Wimbledon champion to face world number 203 Ivo Karlovic.

The Australian demolished his 6ft 10ins opponent in a 19-minute first set, which he took 6-1, but Karlovic, playing in his first grand slam, flipped the script.

A 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 6-4 victory represented 24-year-old Karlovic's 11th Tour win as Hewitt became just the second man to lose in the first round at Wimbledon as a defending champion.

 

Patriots are Hunt-ed down in 2017

The defending Super Bowl champions have had the honour of kicking off the NFL regular season since 2004 and there was another championship banner being unveiled in Foxborough on September 7, 2017.

Pre-game talk surrounded the possibility of the New England Patriots going 19-0. The Kansas City Chiefs had other ideas, though, routing Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in their own backyard in a 42-27 success as rookie running back Kareem Hunt went off for 246 yards from scrimmage.

Belichick and Brady bounced back and New England finished 13-3 before making another Super Bowl, where Nick Foles and the 'underdog' Philadelphia Eagles lifted the Lombardi Trophy in Minnesota.

For the Indian Premier League and NFL legend Peyton Manning, April 18 is when it all began.

Twelve years ago the world's premier Twenty20 franchise cricket tournament began with a bang as Brendon McCullum delivered a thrilling example of the format's appeal.

A decade earlier, the Indianapolis Colts made a decision that would alter the franchise's fortunes, for the better, when they selected quarterback Manning.

We take a look at the most notable sporting moments to have occurred on April 18 in years gone by.

 

1998 - Colts opt for Manning over Leaf

Heading into the 1998 NFL Draft there was little to separate Tennessee quarterback Manning and Washington State signal caller Ryan Leaf in many experts' eyes.

The Colts had the first overall pick and chose Manning, who would lead them to 11 playoff appearances and two Super Bowls - their victory over the Chicago Bears in the first resulting in the franchise's first Lombardi Trophy since they relocated from Baltimore.

Manning ended his career in Indianapolis with a glut of franchise records whereas Leaf, who was drafted directly behind him to the San Diego Chargers, proved to be one of the NFL Draft's biggest busts, playing in just 25 games.

 

1999 - 'The Great One' bows out

The crowd at Madison Square Garden said farewell to an NHL legend as 'The Great One' Wayne Gretzky played the 1,487th and final game of his decorated career.

He scored his 2,857th point - an assist - as his New York Rangers suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Gretzky remains the leading scorer in NHL history and at the time of his retirement he held 61 league records.

 

2008 - McCullum stars in IPL's curtain-raiser

The IPL need not have worried about fireworks for their opening ceremony as they duly came from the bat of a New Zealander once the action began.

McCullum smashed an incredible 158 not out off 73 balls as Kolkata Knight Riders obliterated Royal Challengers Bangalore by 140 runs in the first ever IPL match.

The only man to better that total in IPL history is Chris Gayle, who became the first to surpass 10,000 runs in T20 cricket on April 18, 2017.

2008 - SuperSonics relocation gets the NBA owners' seal of approval 

April 18 is a dark day for Seattle sports fans as it was when they learned NBA owners had voted in favour of moving the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

Just five days after the Sonics had played what proved to be their final game in Seattle, 28 of the 30 owners approved a move to OKC, where the team became the Thunder.

Professional basketball has not returned to Seattle since, while a Thunder team featuring Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden reached the 2012 NBA Finals, where they were beaten by the LeBron James-led Miami Heat.

The 2020 Indian Premier League season has been suspended until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed the decision on Thursday, with the governing body adding the campaign will only commence "when it is safe and appropriate to do so".

The latest edition of the Twenty20 tournament was due to begin on March 29, only to be postponed as the country was placed under a travel ban for all international flights until April 14.

India's prime minister Narendra Modi extended the national lockdown to May 3 earlier this week, leading to the BCCI announcing a further delay in proceedings.

"Due to the evolving global health concerns regarding COVID-19 and lockdown measures implemented by the government of India to contain the spread of the pandemic, the IPL governing council of the BCCI has decided that the IPL 2020 season will be suspended till further notice," the BCCI said.

The health and safety of the nation and everyone involved in our great sport remains our top priority and as such, the BCCI along with the franchise owners, broadcaster, sponsors and all the stakeholders acknowledge that the IPL 2020 season will only commence when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

"The BCCI will continue to monitor and review the situation regarding a potential start date in close partnership with all of its stakeholders and will continue to take guidance from the government of India, state governments and other state regulatory bodies."

Media reports in India had suggested organisers may look to shift the entire season to October and November instead.

However, such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council cancels the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

Pat Cummins revealed he is in regular contact with Kolkata Knight Riders over the postponed Indian Premier League season, which may yet be moved to later in 2020.

The latest edition of the tournament was due to begin on March 29 with a rematch of last year's final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, but the coronavirus pandemic has put the IPL - along with all other major sporting events - on hold.

India has a travel ban in place for all international flights until April 14, meaning Australian fast bowler Cummins remains in his homeland as he waits for an update on the situation.

Media reports in India have suggested organisers may shift the campaign to take place in October and November instead, though such a move could only be made if the International Cricket Council decides to cancel the Twenty20 World Cup, which is due to take place at a similar time in Australia.

"Everything is changing, literally every single day," Cummins said during a video conference call with reporters on Friday. "The last I spoke to them (the Knight Riders), they said they're still really confident and hopeful it will be on at some stage.

"They obviously haven't cancelled it or anything like that yet. It's still a bit of a holding pattern, so we're in contact with our teams every few days.

"Obviously everyone is still really keen for it to go ahead, but the priority is to minimise risk of this spreading.

"It's going to be pretty tight, I think the travel ban (in India) is in place until April 14, so I don't expect anything too soon to happen."

While disappointed at not being able to play for the Knight Riders right now, Cummins - who became the IPL's most expensive overseas signing at December's auction - is making the most of the unexpected break following a hectic 12 months.

The bowler was part of Australia's squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and then also the Ashes series that followed, while he was a regular in all formats throughout a busy summer schedule on home soil.

"The preference would be to be over there (at the IPL) playing, but I think the silver lining is we do get a bit of a break," Cummins told the media.

"We're lucky in cricket, that it [the IPL] is right at the end of the season. We've played basically our whole season out, except for the last couple of games (against New Zealand) and we're always looking for those small breaks to refresh.

"But it almost feels like the start of an off-season at the moment, albeit we're all training by ourselves at home rather than going to the team gym."

The owners of Indian Premier League franchises have discussed the possibility of staging games behind closed doors this year, according to Manoj Badale.

The 13th edition of the world's premier Twenty20 competition was due to begin this week, but it was postponed until April 15 at the earliest due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Badale, one of the co-owners of Rajasthan Royals, revealed one of the mooted options has been contesting fixtures without fans present, which he feels may be a necessary evil.

"Both conversations between the owners and the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India], that's already been discussed," Badale told BBC 5 live.

"As with the English Premier League, the atmosphere is a huge part of the spectacle, but, again, these are unprecedented times and sport needs to be put in the right perspective overall.

"If the way of ensuring the cricket economy survives is by playing behind closed doors, so be it."

There have been only 1,251 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India, fewer than Luxembourg.

So, while staging the IPL in the coming weeks would seem unfathomable to many in Europe, Badale said there is still a belief the tournament could be held in two months' time.

"In India the COVID phenomenon has only really just landed so when we have our owners' conference calls, there's still an expectation that there may be a way of the games being played in June," he added.

"Personally I can't see it happening until much later in the year."

That would have an impact on an already congested cricket calendar, especially as the T20 World Cup is due to start in October.

Yet Badale emphasised the financial value of the IPL to the sport.

"Fundamentally, to the cricket economy - not just to the Indian cricket economy, but to the global cricket economy - the IPL is incredibly important," he said.

"Not just what it means for players, but what it means for the supply chain that a $600m-a-year tournament creates."

Sunday was due to see the start of the Indian Premier League in 2020, with champions Mumbai Indians scheduled to take on Chennai Super Kings in a repeat of last year's final.

It was to be the first of 56 group games during the 13th season, the success of the lucrative Twenty20 competition showing no signs of slowing up despite pretenders springing up all over the world hoping to find the same magic formula for success.

However, the coronavirus outbreak put paid to the best-laid plans.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced a postponement until April 15 initially, yet it remains to be seen when – perhaps even if – the campaign will begin, considering the health crisis that is unfolding around the globe.

Still need your IPL fix, though? Why not enjoy a leisurely trip down memory lane to recall some of the notable moments in the tournament's history.

Jos Buttler remains hopeful the 2020 Indian Premier League season will still go ahead, even if an April 15 start date is looking increasingly unlikely.

The latest edition of the IPL was due to begin on March 29, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India pushed the start date back due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler, who was part of the England squad who flew home early from Sri Lanka due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is due to play for Rajasthan Royals once again.

Appearing on a Sky Sports podcast with former internationals Rob Key, Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton, the 29-year-old revealed he is yet to hear when - or indeed if - the tournament will start, but is optimistic even a shortened campaign may be possible this year.

"Nothing really at the moment," he replied when asked by Hussain if he was aware of any further updates on the situation.

"We saw that initially that it is going to be postponed until April 15, but at the moment everything seems very indefinite. It's hard to see this changing in the immediate future, so I don't see that as a possibility.

"But, as we know, things can hopefully change for the positive as well.

"That's such a massive tournament for world cricket, so hopefully there becomes a situation where some of it – or a shortened tournament – can go ahead."

England's tour of Sri Lanka was cut short midway through a warm-up fixture ahead of the first of two Tests against their hosts.

Buttler and his team-mates are now at home instead, though the 29-year-old is capitalising on some unexpected time off during his busy schedule.

"For me, actually, I'm just trying to make the most of this time and give myself a bit of a break, a mental break, and enjoy some time at home," he said.

The world's leading sporting competitions have been halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With almost 160,000 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 6,000 deaths, athletes across the globe are waiting to learn when they will return to work.

We take a look at the provisional return dates set out so far.
 

BASKETBALL

The NBA came to a sudden stop when a Utah Jazz player - later revealed to be Rudy Gobert - tested positive on Wednesday, and league commissioner Adam Silver warned the hiatus would "be most likely at least 30 days".

CRICKET

International cricket has been pushed back, but there are no firm dates as things stand for rescheduled matches. England's two-match Test tour of Sri Lanka was called off midway through a warm-up match, while the ODI series between India and South Africa was postponed after the first of three matches was washed out. Australia won an opening ODI against New Zealand behind closed doors, but the remaining two 50-over matches were delayed, along with a three-match Twenty20 series. There is at least a provisional date for the Indian Premier League to belatedly start: April 15, pushed back from March 29.

FOOTBALL

European football is at a standstill, with the Champions League among the elite-level competitions suspended. UEFA is set to meet to discuss the future of that tournament and Euro 2020 this week, while FIFA has advised postponements of upcoming international fixtures, for which clubs are no longer required to release their players. The Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A are all paused at least until April 3 although the Bundesliga has only called off one matchweek as things stand, while Ligue 1 is off "until further notice".

GOLF

The PGA Tour initially announced a three-week suspension, with The Players Championship stopped after its opening round. The Masters - won in 2019 by Tiger Woods - was therefore set to mark the Tour's return on April 9, but organisers soon announced the first major of the year would also be postponed. The RBC Heritage on April 16 is the next scheduled tournament. Organisers are planning "regular status updates in the coming weeks" amid "a very fluid situation that requires constant review, communication, and transparency".

MOTORSPORT

The Formula One season is still to start after races in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam and China were postponed or cancelled. The Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 remains on at this stage, however, while managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has suggested the calendar could be reshuffled, with races held in August. NASCAR has postponed events in Atlanta and Miami this and next weekend, and all IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

RUGBY

Rugby league has largely been able to continue both in England and in Australia, but the same is not true of rugby union. Six Nations matches were among the first to fall by the wayside amid the crisis in Italy, with the Azzurri seeing matches against both Ireland and England postponed until later in the year. France versus Ireland was off, too, while Scotland's trip to Wales belatedly followed suit. Club action has ground to a halt, with Super Rugby finally paused this weekend and no return imminent.

TENNIS

After Indian Wells and then the Miami Open were cancelled, the ATP Tour announced its suspension up to and including the week of April 20. The WTA Tour preferred to call off individual events, but the schedule is now clear for five weeks. It was still to make a decision on the European clay-court season. The Fed Cup finals and play-offs - set for mid-April - have been pushed back, meanwhile, with the ITF vowing to address any impact the postponement may have on players' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

OTHERS

Despite chaos surrounding various sports across the globe, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe says the country is still planning for the Olympic Games in Tokyo to go ahead as scheduled in July. The London Marathon and the Boston Marathon will both still go ahead this year, but with revised dates of October 4 and September 14, respectively. The Giro d'Italia will be postponed and a new date for the race will not be announced until at least April 3 when a decree in Italy banning sport ends. The NBA is not the only American competition to be disrupted, meanwhile, with the 2020 MLB season moved back "at least two weeks" from March 26, and the NHL campaign paused indefinitely.

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