No IPL-style timeout for World Twenty20
The World Twenty20 tournament will not adopt an IPL-style "tactical timeout", the event's director, Steve Elworthy, has said. The ICC playing conditions for the tournament - which takes place in June - have been fixed, he says, and he wouldn't want the game to be "broken up all over" anyway.
Elworthy also believes the IPL will have no impact on the ICC event - which starts on June 5, 12 days after the IPL ends - either in terms of player fatigue, motivation or even TV viewership.
The nation vs nation concept is the key behind the World Twenty20's success, Elworthy told Cricinfo, and the sheer thought of "pulling on the jersey and representing your country" will lift all those players who move to England for the ICC event.
The IPL has adopted a seven-and-a-half minute timeout after every 10 overs, officially to enable teams to talk tactics but with one eye on the commercial possibilities. Elworthy ruled it out for the ICC event. "Not in this World Twenty20; the playing conditions have been set. I am not sure of the reasons behind it (the IPL timeout); whether it is commercial or cricket-playing reasons. From our perspective, the idea is that the game needs to have that momentum. It needs to keep the pace and the momentum going. The playing conditions don't stipulate for a break in this World T20 and I would like to see the game continue, rather than being broken up all over."
Elworthy, the former South Africa seamer who is now based in London, was tournament director of the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007, a hugely successful event that laid the foundation for the IPL. But he will not be part of next year's World Twenty20 in West Indies - he will instead stay back in England to help set up the ECB's Twenty20 league, which is tentatively scheduled to start next year.
Elworthy is currently busy preparing for the June event and is confident that national pride will work in the ICC's favour after the BCCI's 59-match IPL, which features most of the world's best cricketers who have been recruited on contracts worth millions of dollars. "Every cricketer, from when he's a child, wants to play cricket for his country," he said. "It's not about the money; it's about pulling on the jersey and representing your country. That's the difference. Clearly, the two don't compete because the IPL is basically a domestic product and the World Twenty20 has national teams playing."
Besides, the Twenty20 format itself will ensure that the players stay fresh across the two tournaments, he said, and not all the World Twenty players will be part of IPL. "It is only a three-hour game," he said. "There are a number of players and they will be rotated. There are some high-profile players playing in the IPL, but a bulk of the national teams are not playing in the IPL. They will be preparing separately. There might be one or two individuals who are affected but I don't see how there should be any effect on all the players."
The India vs England or India vs Australia feel will again work in favour of the World Twenty20 in terms of spectators and TV viewers, a chunk of whom will be from India, he said. "It's the same difference between watching a province or a city team and watching your country play," Elworthy said. "In the World Twenty20, it's India playing Australia, England, or South Africa and the rivalry is not quite like the Mumbai Indians playing Rajasthan Royals. It's a different mindset from the viewers' point of view when you are supporting your country as opposed to supporting your domestic team."
Elworthy admitted, though, that the IPL has helped raised the profile of the game "across the board" and carved a position for itself from a brand perspective. "It is very much a music-based tournament; it appeals to a younger generation," he said. "Having said that, a lot of older people love this format of the game as well because it does have that excitement. And we are competing in an entertainment industry now; it's not necessarily competing with other sport, you are competing with all forms of entertainment. To pack it all into a three-hour time slot is the key to it all; that to me is the success of it."
That apart, the explosion of interest in the Twenty20 format after the inaugural world event in 2007 has been an eye-opener, Elworthy said. "In 2007, we had certainly realised that Twenty20 had some serious potential," he said. "Even earlier, I was involved in the setting up of Twenty20 cricket in South Africa in 2003, and saw the potential because we were selling out tickets for domestic matches. But where it has gone from September 2007 in South Africa to where it is now, it really has taken the cricketing world by storm. So I wouldn't say it's surprising, but it really is a great eye-opener."
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo