After weeks of lobbying to browbeat the government, the Indian Premier League has taken the logical option of moving its second season out of the country.
The Hindustan Times had reported on Sunday that the IPL had decided to shift base out of India.
<b1>The decision to move the T20 tournament was taken at an emergency meeting of the BCCI working committee in Mumbai on Sunday. The firming up of the new venue is expected on Monday, with South Africa and England emerging as the two frontrunners.
After categorically denying any contact with the IPL when contacted by HT on Saturday, Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Gerald Majola on Sunday admitted to having been approached by the BCCI. “We received an official approach to be one of several options they are considering to host the tournament outside India. At this stage we are looking forward to holding discussions with IPL officials,” Majola said.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), too, welcomed the prospect of hosting the tournament. In a statement the ECB said it had a “very good relationship with the BCCI” and would be “delighted to help them again”. Sources say IPL officials are likely to fly out to England on Monday to discuss the deal.
The two possible alternatives are best suited on account of the time difference vis-à-vis India. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi on Sunday made it clear that all matches in the second season, irrespective of the venue, will start at 4pm and 8pm IST.
That rider suits both England, four and a half hours behind India, when the IPL starts, as well as South Africa, three and a half behind.
The decision to move out was pushed by Modi and the franchisee owners in the face of calls from IPL members to scrap the tournament and treat this as a ‘zero year’.
While the final decision was taken on Sunday, sources tell HT that Modi had tabled the option of taking the IPL out to SA a few weeks ago.
The option of England only emerged at the insistence of two big guns in the BCCI. Modi will logically take the IPL to the country that offers him the best commercial viability, and in terms of visibility, that would be England.
However, it will not be as easy. The ECB might be willing to host the IPL and fill its coffers in the aftermath of the Allen Stanford debacle, but they will have to work the dates around the domestic county season as well as the England-WI series. In SA, though, there will be no such problems. The domestic season there ends on April 4, while the last South Africa-Australia ODI is on April 17. The IPL, will, in effect, have 12 grounds. At the end of the day, however, the IPL will head to shores where moneybags jangle the loudest.