There is a strong likelihood for the Indian Premier League to revisit South Africa ten years after the Proteas land had become the venue for India’s biggest cricket carnival.
There are more than one factors, which may force the Board of Control for Cricket in India to move IPL’s 13th edition out of the country. There is a strong probability of the nation going to general elections around March-April, the time scheduled for IPL. 2019 is also the International Cricket Council World Cup year. There is no possibility for the league to get another window in the packed international cricket calendar.
An early election may only save the BCCI from the tough scenario of staging IPL at offshore venues. The board as of now has not made any official move to identify alternate venues for the IPL, reports suggest the board officials have started exploring contingency plans.
But for an exceptional scenario of an early general election, India will witness the pan-India election for the 17th Lok Sabha in March-April 2019. The present Union Government is also advocating for simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies. In such a scenario, there is no question of IPL getting a government nod for a schedule clashing with the elections. Nor would security agencies agree to give a green signal to multi-million dollar league.
There is no way that BCCI could reschedule the 45-day league, which features crème de la crème of world cricket. The 2019 ICC World Cup is scheduled to start from May 30. ICC rules make it mandatory for the participating teams to arrive for the World Cup at least two weeks in advance. Lodha Committee recommendations also cast an obligation on the BCCI to ensure a 15-day gap between the IPL and the World Cup.
Under such a scenario, the board will be compelled to eight entire IPL 2019 to an overseas destination, or at least play some of the games in some other nation. If only some of the league matches are required to be played in a third nation, the board may also opt for the United Arab Emirates as was the case in 2014.
Meanwhile, to adhere to the World Cup deadlines as well as the Lodha Committee recommendations, the BCCI is already working on bringing forward the start of the IPL early by 15 to 20 days. The 2019 IPL, therefore, could begin anytime between March 15 and 20. “That’s the only reason why partial shifting of the IPL out of the country is more of a possibility than entirely shifting the tournament. If that’s the case, UAE could be the destination,” the Times of India has reported quoting sources.
The league may also bring in some cheer for the South African cricket fans and help them overcome the disappointment of seeing their own proposed Global T20 league failing to take off in its proposed inaugural year. After all, the 2009 IPL in South Africa has been second only to FIFA World Cup and bigger than the 2013 ICC World Cup in terms of excitement for the cricket loving Proteas.