The 2019 general elections in India have forced the BCCI to consider hosting the 2019 IPL in another country, with South Africa the front-runner.
According to reports out of India, the BCCI has been in communication with all eight IPL franchise owners to let them know that there is a strong likelihood that the 2019 IPL might be hosted outside India owing to a clash with the general elections in the country.
South Africa has been identified as the most likely destination should the IPL indeed move, although the 2019 IPL is likely to lack the player power of earlier years due to the timing of the 2019 World Cup, which starts on 30 May.
The IPL would need to wrap up at least 15 days prior to the start of the World Cup to give the players a chance to conclude their IPL commitments before meeting up with their squads for final preparations and warm-up matches.
Sources inside the BCCI suggest that officials are looking at a start date for the IPL of around the third week of March, which would allow the tournament to finish early enough for the players to join their national teams. IPL-contracted England World Cup players, for instance, would not be available for IPL action beyond 30 April as they are scheduled to report to a World Cup training camp for their country. There is a strong likelihood that South African, Australian and New Zealand players might also be called up for early training camps ahead of cricket’s premier competition.
‘Even though the IPL is starting by the third week of March, we cannot shift the tournament midway [to another country], because that means teams will have to adjust to conditions at the business end of the tournament,’ said a source close to the BCCI.
South Africa is the ideal location for the IPL, although England was also considered before weather conditions ruled it out as a possible venue. The UAE was another strong candidate, although it would be unable to host the entire IPL tournament as it has only three appropriate cricket venues.
The IPL was previously hosted in the UAE (2014) and South Africa (2009). Adapting to local conditions will prove crucial to success in the 2019 IPL, and teams will want to select their players to best suit the playing conditions.
Cricket South Africa CEO Thabang Moroe was quoted in August as stating that South Africa would be delighted to host the 2019 IPL.
‘It remains speculation for now until such time that the government of India announces the date for elections. But there is an appetite from them to move it to either SA or Dubai,’ Moroe said.
‘There are issues of wear and tear as far as our wickets are concerned and [issues regarding] our competitions because we are going to host the U19 World Cup in the next two years. Should we continue with our domestic T20 Slam this year‚ the tournament will also add to the workload on the wickets … and those are all things we must take cognisance of before we make a decision,’ said Moroe.
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