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IPL choice may be England; S Africa thinks it is 'standby'

England appears to be the favourite to host the second edition of the Indian Premier League as the Cricket South Africa chief executive says he suspected they were not the "preferred choice" but a "standby".

cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2009 20:10 IST

England appears to be the favourite to host the second edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as the Cricket South Africa chief executive says he suspected they were not the "preferred choice" but a "standby".

Both the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have expressed their keenness to host the event, but much will still depend on the terms and facilities the two boards offer. Basically, it boils down to the ground rent they ask for because the other key components like the media rights, gate revenue and sponsorship are non-negotiable as are the logistics.

IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi and Indian cricket board secretary N Srinivasan left Mumbai for London on Monday morning.

CSA chief executive Gerald Majola is quoted in the London Guardian as saying that he was not hopeful of IPL coming to South Africa.

"All that's happened so far is that we've received an invitation, an approach in fact, from the BCCI [Board of Control for Cricket in India] to be a possible option for their IPL because they took a decision Sunday to move away from India," said Majola.

"All we know so far is that we're just one of the options. From my gathering so far, nothing has happened since then - they are supposed to come back to us on Monday, but the day has just started so hopefully they will get back at some point.

"But I must say from my side, I'm not that optimistic. The real reason I say so is the timing. I've worked with the Indians for eight years now. A decision has to be taken shortly. So I suspect they would be speaking to maybe their preferred choice and I think South Africa is just a standby to whoever their choice is."

A member of the IPL governing council told IANS that CSA has given a blank cheque to the Twenty20 league organisers and promised to go out of its way to make any compromise to get the event whereas the ECB may have certain demands.

The event had to be shifted out of India because Modi refused to tinker with the format of 59 matches over 45 days between April 10 and May 24 with one fixture each day and two each Sunday.

The catch in New Delhi is that the IPL schedule is clashing with the English county season as well as England's international calendar that includes a Test series against the West Indies and the Twenty20 World Cup which will follow soon after the IPL. And the ECB is unwilling to disrupt their domestic or international programme. That means the availability of grounds is drastically reduced.

Still, logistically, England will be a better choice because of easy internal travel plus the huge Indian expats who will throng the grounds.

The IPL organisers are hoping to get four grounds and that again leaves the eight franchises without a base to play home and away games.

The ECB's biggest gain will be the event bringing over hundred million dollars into the British economy. The organisers had apparently tied up the travel accommodation long before the Sunday decision. They have already short listed four hotels for over 400 rooms.

The eight franchises have also been advised that they should prune their squads in view of the extraordinary circumstances. Each franchise team has about ten overseas players, though they can only play four at a time, even as the Indian quota will have to be reduced.

The advice to the franchise is informal, according to the governing council member, but if any team wants to carry more it is free to do so at its own expense. There is no cap as such on the number, but ideally each squad should have 23 members or so.

The Indian team now in New Zealand will be the worst hit. The players will hardly get time to get back home and join their teams. Some of them will have to proceed straight to the IPL venue as the third and final Test will end in Wellington on April 7. The team is to fly out of Auckland next day and arrive in India on April 9.

First Published: Mar 23, 2009 20:09 IST