Rain could stump England's IPL bid

The contest between England and South Africa to stage the Indian Premier League was hotting up as bad weather threatened to cool English hopes of staging the lucrative Twenty20 event.

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2009 11:16 IST

The contest between England and South Africa to stage the Indian Premier League (IPL) was hotting up as bad weather threatened to cool English hopes of staging the lucrative Twenty20 event.

Organisers have had to take the second edition of the lucrative tournament out of its homeland, with the Indian government saying it cannot provide sufficient security forces for both the forthcoming general election and the Twenty20 competition, which runs from April 10-May 24.

IPL chiefs were attracted to England for several reasons.

Among those were the relatively short distance between venues and the strong support for Asian teams in the country's major cities, which are also home to Test match grounds that could stage fixtures.

But according to a report carried by the Cricinfo website on Monday, opinion has moved sharply in favour of South Africa, with IPL officials increasingly worried by how rain, which often makes a major dent in the early part of an English cricket season, could adversely affect up to 70 per cent of their fixture schedule.

South Africa not only has generally better weather but its domestic season is due to end just the day before the IPL's scheduled start.

By contrast, bringing the IPL to England would mean a clash with both the county programme and England's home series against the West Indies.

And the cost of shifting the IPL to South Africa is likely to be significantly cheaper than playing it in England.

"It's the beginning of the season in England and Wales, and there is a lot of Twenty20 cricket being played - including the ICC World Twenty20 (in June)," said International Cricket Council president David Morgan, himself a former chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

"I do think there will be great difficulties in relocating it."

Manoj Badale, co-owner of IPL champions the Rajasthan Royals, was bullish about South Africa's chances, telling BBC Sport: "Certainly based on the conversations I've had, if it goes outside of India you'd have to suggest South Africa is the likeliest venue."

Meanwhile much was being made of reports that Lalit Modi, the IPL commissioner, was first travelling to South Africa this week ahead of coming to London for talks with the ECB.

Modi believes the lure of an unexpected cash injection is likely to overcome any problems and ought to have potential hosts eager to stage the event.

"The IPL is a big competition," he said. "We would bring around 100 million dollars of revenue to the British economy and anybody in a recession would want to have us."

However, the last time ECB chiefs thought they were on to a cash bonanza they ended up being severely embarrassed after plans to stage a series of Twenty20 events in partnership with Allen Stanford foundered after the Texan businessman was accused of a multi-billion dollar fraud by US authorities.

Modi is not Stanford but ECB chairman Giles Clarke may decide now is not the time to risk angering those counties upset by the way in which he did business with the Texan.

One factor thought to be in England's favour is that it is already due to host the World Twenty20 tournament, a competition for full international teams, from June 5.

Playing the IPL in England would allow leading players from World Twenty20 champions India, who supply the bulk of an IPL roster which also features some of cricket's biggest international stars, to acclimatise to English conditions before the start of the tournament.

But the IPL is primarily about commerce.

That South Africa's television rights scenario, with Supersport owning both the rights for the IPL and any international matches in the country, is less complicated than England's could trump mere cricket considerations.

First Published: Mar 24, 2009 11:11 IST