Two-week IPL window likely in India
Not more than two of the seven weeks of the Indian Premier League's seventh edition are likely be played in India, it was confirmed at the BCCI working committee held in Bhubaneswar on Friday. IPL 2014, which will have to be moved out of India due to its clash with the federal elections, will return to India after May 15 - the expected date on which elections will end.
Even though the working committee could not finalise the venues and tentative schedule during its meeting in Bhubaneswar on Friday, it decided that the last fortnight of the tournament, in all likelihood, will be played in India. The final decision about the IPL venues will be taken only after the election dates are announced.
The BCCI's working committee was briefed about presentations made by the boards of South Africa, UAE, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which were shortlisted as alternate venues for the IPL. A team from IMG, the event organisers, had recced the venues and the committee was told that South Africa, UAE and Bangladesh were the preferred alternatives. A final decision, IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal said, would be taken at a governing council meeting likely to be held on March 6.
"A final decision on IPL venues will be taken after getting the schedule of general elections," BCCI president N Srinivasan said after the meeting. "If necessary, part of the matches would be played abroad. IPL chairman Ranjib Biswal has informed us that South Africa, Bangladesh and UAE have expressed interest to host the matches."
South Africa, having hosted the IPL in 2009, are the front-runners with "lack of turnouts at the stadium" being the only bit of a concern, according to a member who attended the working committee meeting. He added that the UAE will be a "logistical challenge" with all domestic travel required to be done by road. "Besides, proximity to the betting mafia looms large when it comes to the UAE," he said. Bangladesh's preparedness, or the lack of it, to host another big event after staging the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 may work against them.
The dates of federal elections are likely to be announced in the coming week. Sanjay Patel, the BCCI secretary, had said after the IPL auction that the BCCI will try and organise the IPL in India, provided the government allows it to. Last week, India's home minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, in a meeting with Patel informed the BCCI that the government wasn't in a position to provide security to the IPL amid polls. Thus, the BCCI was left with no choice to play the first month of the IPL away from home.
In the wake of the spot-fixing scandal during IPL 2013, which resulted in the arrests of three Rajasthan Royals players and a Chennai Super Kings official, questions have been raised about anti-corruption measures during the league. Biswal stressed that the BCCI has increased its efforts in spreading awareness among the teams. "Both the players and franchises are being educated on how to avoid match-fixing," Biswal said. "We have already identified some persons who need to be avoided in order to make IPL matches transparent."
The working committee was also briefed about the positive impact of the proposed changes in the ICC on the coffers of all the BCCI affiliates. Having played a major role in converting the ICC's Future Tours Programme into bilateral agreements, India is set to host at least two full series at home every year after the 2015 World Cup. The benefits were explained to the working committee in detail. "It was explained to us that this will result in every state association's annual income going up by approximately Rs 15 crore (US$ 2.4 million approx.)," another member said.
This would mean that the annual share of each affiliate unit's income would rise close to Rs 40 crore with effect from 2015-16. Besides, more centers would be able to host international matches. In an attempt to take Test cricket to smaller centers, the BCCI has requested Test status to be awarded to the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi and Barabati Stadium in Cuttack. A joint delegation of the BCCI and ICC inspected facilities at both the venues earlier this week. If the ICC declares these two stadiums fit to stage Test matches, the BCCI AGM will award the status to both venues. This would take the number of Test centers in India to 12.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo