IPL will not expand for eight years
India have committed to a freeze on the growth of the IPL over the next eight years, promising that the tournament will not expand beyond its current dates or spot in the calendar and so allaying fears that the BCCI would seek to expand the event into an outright competitor to international cricket.
While the BCCI has not formally signed an agreement to keep the IPL at its present size, the Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards said "a commitment" had been made. As part of an interview with ESPNcricinfo to be published on Monday, Edwards revealed his concerns that the BCCI intended to "leave world cricket behind" unless a new Members Participation Agreement (MPA) was struck alongside changes to the ICC that better reflected the subcontinental nation's financial contribution.
He paralleled the looming scenario with that which confronted the Australian Cricket Board in the late 1970s, when Kerry Packer whisked away the game's best players to World Series Cricket after the board refused to entertain his desire for exclusive television rights to the game down under.
The limitation of the IPL's size to its current dimensions was a central goal of Edwards' talks with the BCCI president N Srinivasan, which began even before the Woolf Report into ICC governance was tabled in 2012 and immediately rejected by the administrators of numerous nations, including India.
"There was a very real chance that India would have gone on an IPL voyage and left world cricket behind. That was said more than once," Edwards told ESPNcricinfo during the recently completed Newlands Test. "If that had have happened, you were looking down the barrel of a Kerry Packer moment. It would have been easy to say 'they aren't going to do it, they want to play in World Cups', but that was a reality.
"We have a commitment from them that IPL will not change during this eight-year cycle. Dates won't change, the start date won't change and the length of the tournament won't change. They've given us that commitment and that was important to us. IPL is important to them, and to the world of cricket players who make a lot of money out of it, and we didn't want to see it grow. We've also negotiated with India to pay the countries more for their players. We've got good understandings on that, they've been very straightforward and I believe them."
Edwards had not been prepared to call India out on threats to go it alone, instead preferring to find a middle ground that has now been outlined via the ICC resolutions approved across a series of meetings in January and February. Numerous opponents of the resolutions have suggested that the BCCI's bluff should have been called, but Edwards said "second rate international cricket" may have been the outcome.
"Well why would you?" Edwards said. "If you can find a progressive way to improve the place, why would you take that chance, why would you do a Kerry Packer, where the Australian board just said 'bugger off' with the deal. Your guess is as good as mine what might happen. I don't know what would happen, and why would you risk it?
"Why would you risk turning the IPL into a travelling circus that would take all our good cricketers 12 months of the year and leave us with second rate international cricket. It's not a pretty thought. But it's possible, and they know that. Maybe in the end it will still happen one day, but I don't think it will happen in the next eight years."
Despite the progress of the ICC resolutions, which are now being nailed down in greater detail, Edwards revealed that the MPA for the next round of television rights was still to be signed by the BCCI. "India are strong and we've got to recognise that, but what we want them to do is be part of the decision-making process and be in the ICC rather than just turning up and being aggressive, angry and unhappy," he said. "That's where they are, they're unhappy.
"The reality is to this day we still haven't got an MPA signed yet for the next media rights cycle. ICC management has been trying for a year to get it signed and it still isn't. That has to be resolved by this next board meeting. That's one of the building blocks. They've said more than once 'you can have a World Cup but we won't be coming'. We can argue they might come, but will they come to Champions Trophy or a World Twenty20? They might not. I can easily see them not coming."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here