MUMBAI: Five years ago, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was forced to host season two of the IPL on foreign shores – South Africa – because the government of India refused to provide enough security on the grounds that the extravaganza collided with the general elections being held around the same time that year.
This year, with the general elections likely to be held in five or six phases between April and May, a similar situation seems to be staring the BCCI in the face. While it awaits the final election dates to be announced end February or early March, hosting the 2014 edition of IPL in South Africa is out of question, courtesy the soured ties between the cricket boards of the two nations that culminated in an abridged Indian tour to the rainbow country recently.
Cricket administration sources point out that out of the few neighbouring countries in the fray to host IPL 7, it is possible the BCCI may seriously consider the UAE. The Arab nation will also host a major ICC event for the very first time - the ICC under-19 Cricket World Cup UAE 2014 (ICC U-19 CWC) being held from 14 February to 1 March. The tourney will be held across seven venues including the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi; Abu Dhabi Oval 1; Abu Dhabi Oval 2; Sharjah Cricket Stadium; Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai Sports City; ICC Academy Oval 1, Dubai; and the ICC Academy Oval 2, Dubai.
With the UAE having hosted the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier UAE 2013 between 15 and 30 November, 2013; the final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-13 between Afghanistan and Ireland from 10 to 13 December, 2013 and the Asian Cricket Council U19 Asia Cup earlier this month, the emirate seems well equipped to accomodate a major cricketing event from the BCCI stable as well.
It was around September 2013 that the alarm bells were raised regarding a clash with the election dates, and the BCCI had then stated that the options being considered were Sri Lanka or Bangladesh. Its official web site iplt20.com was silent on the relocation of some of the matches at the time of writing. The BCCI had then said it did not want to do things at the last minute like it was forced to do around five years ago.
Relocating the 2009 edition of IPL had then proved a logistical nightmare for the cricket board, what with over 10,000 cricketers and other staff flown from India to South Africa within a span of a few weeks. Not to mention the approximately US$100 million injected into South Africa’s local economy plus the additional expenditure which had to be incurred on the live television telecast to Indian viewers by the BCCI and its telecast partner Multi Screen Media.
Needless to say, the board and team owners would want IPL 7 to be hosted entirely in India but if at all a few matches need to be shifted elsewhere, UAE could well prove to be the ideal location in terms of both logistics and economies of scale.