Indian cricket board seeks IPL in UAE after World Cup postponed
The Indian Premier League on Tuesday seized upon the postponement of the Twenty20 World Cup to propose holding its cash bonanza tournament in the United Arab Emirates from September.
IPL chairman Brijesh Patel told AFP that the Board of Control for Cricket in India was seeking government permission to finally stage the event after multiple hold-ups because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The board is confident it can assemble stars from around the world to line up for the eight IPL teams from late September to early November. The UAE would be hosting the IPL for the second time in six years. "It will be held in the UAE but first the board will seek permission from the Indian government to stage it there," Patel said.
He added that the exact dates would be decided by the IPL's governing council next week. Media reports have predicted the IPL would run from September 26 to November 7. Patel would not say whether the games would be played behind closed doors. A final decision would rest with the UAE and Indian authorities.
The IPL is the BCCI's main revenue earner. The Indian board has said it would lose more than $500 million if this year's tournament does not go ahead. The seven-week tournament, which normally plays to packed stadiums across the country of 1.3 billion people, is estimated to generate more than $11 billion for the Indian economy.
The BCCI had to wait until the International Cricket Council formally postponed the World Cup on Monday before announcing its new plan. The World Cup was to be held in Australia from October, ahead of a second tournament in India in 2021 to get the World Cup onto a new calendar cycle.
Under the new arrangements, either Australia or India will host the next T20 World Cup in October-November 2021, then the other nation will hold it in 2022. Cricket Australia's acting chief executive Nick Hockley said Tuesday that the postponement of the T20 World Cup was "absolutely inevitable".
India has long been pressing for a decision, however, so that it can get the IPL back on track. The IPL has been held outside India twice before when it clashed with national elections. South Africa hosted the 2009 event and part of it was held in the UAE in 2014.
The 13th IPL should have started on March 29 but it has been repeatedly postponed because of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown. With the pandemic not expected to peak in India for several weeks, a tournament in India is considered too risky. A host of international stars including England's Ben Stokes and Australia's Steve Smith and David Warner are signed up for the eight teams.
Australia's Pat Cummins will be the most expensive overseas star this year. Kolkata Knight Riders agreeing a $2.17 million fee for him in a December auction. The IPL may clash with Australia's Sheffield Shield and paceman Josh Hazlewood said it wouldn't be easy to abandon the domestic tournament.
"IPL is such a huge part of the year for a lot of players and probably the strongest T20 competition in the world, up there with the Big Bash," Hazlewood, who plays for Chennai Super Kings, was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. "So if that takes a few games off us playing for New South Wales in the build-up to the international summer that's a tough call."