MUMBAI: Brijesh Patel, the chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) governing council, says he is waiting for the International Cricket Council‘s (ICC) formal announcement on the T20 World Cup, one that’s been pending for a while now, before preparations can get underway to host this year’s edition.
Speaking to TOI on Thursday, Patel said: “We are ready to go ahead with the IPL. But we can start planning the schedule formally only after the official announcement is made on the T20 World Cup, which I’m expecting will arrive anytime soon. On our part, we’ve already earmarked the September-October window for the tournament to be played.”
The ICC was expected to take a final decision on the T20 World Cup on May 28 which then got deferred to June 10 and is now expected to resume on June 14, Monday.
“The meeting was rescheduled for Monday because it got very late on Wednesday and couldn’t conclude,” those in the know of developments said.
Patel further added that plans are already afoot to host the league in the September-October window. “Right now, we’re saying it’s tentative because finalities of the schedule can only be worked out once official confirmations arrive. Talks are going on with the league’s multiple stakeholders and we’re all on board. So, it’s a matter of time before we start putting things in place,” the GC chairman said.
The senior cricket administrator says there are chances that the tournament can move out of the country too, if it is not possible to host it in India. “We have to watch how things are going to play out over the next one month from a Covid perspective. We don’t mind shifting the IPL to another country, either in part or in full. There are other aspects to be considered here,” he says.
“Suppose we shift just the first leg out of the country, we will have to go through a quarantine when we fly there. But we may probably also have to go through another quarantine when we’re back for the India leg, if Covid doesn’t relent. Or who knows, by October things will be different. Let’s see. Right now, we’re not ruling out the idea of playing the whole tournament overseas,” Patel said.
The tournament will have to begin in September and conclude in October because India is expected to travel to Australia the following month to undergo a quarantine before the Test series begins Down Under.
“If the IPL has to begin in September, there’ll be a threat of monsoon. Whatever the case, logistics will have to be worked out carefully. Whether in India or overseas, the tournament won’t be played at more than two or three venues because it’s only for television,” says Patel.
The Emirates Cricket Board (UAE) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) have both offered to host the tournament if the BCCI decides to shift it overseas. However, right now, UAE seems to be a more practical choice among the thinking heads in Indian cricket for a variety of reasons.
First, the BCCI has already conducted a leg of IPL there, in 2014. Second, the grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are far away from the city. There are enough choices to reign in hospitality and the specified bio-secure zones. Lastly, the weather is likely to be more accommodating.
“Also remember, wherever the IPL is played, it’ll be played to empty stands. So, as long as it’s available prime time for Indian fans, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Patel added.
Broadcasters Star too, it is learnt, are in line with the idea and believe it doesn’t matter if the tournament is held in India or overseas. “As long as the full tournament is played and is available to Indian viewers on prime time and there’s no gap in the middle of the tournament because of a repetition of quarantine or such, they’re (Star) going to be fine with it,” say industry executives.
The ball, therefore, is once again in ICC’s court to come out with a formal announcement on the T20 World Cup.