Jake Lush McCrum, the COO of Rajasthan Royals IPL franchise, recently sat down with NewsX for an exclusive interview. We spoke to him about the IPL 2020 experience, and more specifically, how him and his franchise had worked around the extraordinary circumstances the Covid-19 pandemic has caused. “Obviously, this year we’ve started very late, but there’s been work going on behind the scenes for a long time, not just from us but from the BCCI and the other franchises as well. The players are very excited to get this under way; they all want to play as well.”

He also feels that the late- start may be a blessing in disguise for the IPL, as it might allowed the organisers to understand and learn from the experience of other leagues, all around the world. “Obviously, like the Premiere League in England, and leagues in the U.S, they started before us, so we’ll be able to learn from them, and see what worked and what didn’t to make sure the IPL, is the most entertaining sporting event. We’ll also be able to get all of the fan engagement as well.”

Jake specifically brought up social media engagement and promotion of the franchise, as a way to get fans interested and invested. “Obviously, during these times, social media is really important. We’ve invested a lot into our digital team. We had the mental health series early on during the lockdown as well, we had players like Robin Uthappa and Rahul Dravid speaking to the fans, and sharing their own experiences. Creating that personalised content has a big effect on fan enthusiasm. We’re also working on the Inside story documentary with Red Bull Media House, to give fans an insight on how our last season was, and give them behind the scenes access to what all happened. We’re also filming this year, within our own bubble obviously, and we’ll be releasing that as well.”

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We asked him about safety, and keeping his team’s players healthy in such a unique environment. ‘Safety is of utmost importance. The BCCI Has given us a very detailed and robust procedure, which is really important, it is very useful to have these kinds of things in place. We’ve followed their rules to the letter, and that’s why last week when Dishant Yagnik tested positive, we made sure that he is following all the BCCI rules. 14 day quarantine, 2 negative tests before he’s allowed to fly out to the UAE. We’ve also set up our Covid response team, to make sure we can respond swiftly, because there’s a lot of moving parts to something like this.”

He feels that the economic aspects of a tournament like the IPL are important to look at as well. “Obviously the first priority, is can we do this while keeping everyone healthy? But beyond that, when you look at the kind of economic impact the IPL has, the money goes to the BCCI and the franchises, but because of the multiplier effect, it gets spread out a lot. It goes to grassroots cricket, women’s cricket, to the companies we work with. It really is its own parallel economy. “

We also asked him about Rajasthan Royal’s strategy for winning the 2020 edition of the IPL, but he didn’t seem willing to share. ‘Well, how we’re going to win, I think we’ll keep that secret to ourselves.”

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