Tuesday, June 15, 2021

BCCI CEO suggests ‘IPL in UAE’, wants tried and tested option; franchises in agreement too

IPL 2021

MUMBAI, May 21: BCCI’s interim CEO Hemang Amin, also the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Indian Premier League (IPL), is ready with two separate schedules for the remaining 31 matches of the tournament’s 14th edition that the BCCI is determined to host between September and October this year.

Amin has drafted one schedule keeping the United Kingdom (UK) in mind, and another keeping the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in mind. It will be the BCCI’s call to decide on where the IPL must relocate – a call that is likely to be taken by the time the Board’s Special General Meeting (SGM) is held on May 29.
Having pulled off a very successful 13th edition in the UAE in 2020, for which Amin was lauded by all stakeholders in the IPL, and by the global cricket fraternity, the 40-something chief executive was among the most vocal voices within the BCCI this year, asking them to host the entire 2021 edition in the UAE once again.
The Board’s all-powerful office-bearers, however, decided to host it in India, and that too across multiple cities, before the tournament had to be called off mid-way.
While Amin now has two schedules ready as choices to present in the run-up to the SGM, TOI understands that the interim CEO has asked the Board to keep UAE as the preferred option. And for that, he is learnt to have shared some “very logical reasons”.
A) Shifting to the UK will be a risky proposition because starting mid-September, the possibility of monsoon returning post the English summer is reasonably higher. By October, rain is incessant and that will also mean relatively colder weather. Will the BCCI – having paid hosting fees to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to conduct the IPL there – take the risk of matches getting washed away and once again receive flak? In contrast, the weather in UAE is hot in September but begins to cool down by the end of the month, as the IPL witnessed first-hand last year.
B) Hosting the tournament in the UK will mean relatively higher costs – spending in Pounds, vis-à-vis spending in Dirhams (UAE). While the BCCI can ask franchises to make up for the costs by keeping the gate money – because crowds will be allowed at grounds in England – England will still be a costlier proposition.
C) The UAE is a tried and tested venue, with a quarter of the IPL matches being hosted there in 2014 and the entire edition in 2020. The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), which laid down a red carpet for the BCCI to come and play in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah, is once again requesting they be allowed to do so. The franchises and the BCCI know their way around.
A central bio-secure bubble can be constructed in the UAE, and hotels are aware of the protocols, thanks to the previous edition.
Franchises too are in line with the idea of shifting the IPL to UAE, especially considering their experiences last season.

Some though see the UK as a “suitable option too”, given the novelty factor – IPL has only been conducted in South Africa and UAE, outside of India. There’s a certain belief the UK could bring a certain newness to proceedings.
The ball lies in the BCCI’s court (read: office bearers and members). While they take the coming week to make the final decision, those tracking these developments say, “one way or the other, BCCI should take a decision and work towards it. Things should not get stuck in ‘decision-making paralysis’ and be left for the last moment. The sooner a call is taken, the better the preparations”. (TNN)