Mumbai: The chairman of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will travel to England and South Africa over the next 24 hours in an effort to finalise an overseas venue for this year’s edition of the Twenty20 competition.
The Indian cricket board announced on Sunday that it would stage next month’s event abroad after failing to get government clearance for security cover because the tournament dates clashed with the country’s general elections.
“I’ll be visiting both England and South Africa in the next 24 hours,” IPL chief Lalit Modi told Reuters. “I’m booked both ways and I’m yet to decided where to go first.”
The Indian board said the second edition would have to be played on its original dates between 10 April and 24 May due to the cramped international calendar and that they were in discussions with interested boards willing to host the event.
England and South Africa have emerged as the main contenders.
A decision on the overseas venue is expected to be announced in the next two days, another board official told Reuters.
Indian media speculated that England was the preferred venue.
“We have had discussions in the last 36 hours. We shall be meeting representatives of the IPL and the BCCI and shall be reporting back to the Board at the back end of the week,” England Cricket Board’s chief executive David Collier was quoted in British media.
England is to host the Twenty20 World Cup in June. India are the defending champions.
“It would make sense in having the event in England as it would help our cricketers prepare for the Twenty20 World Cup,” India’s bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad told Indian media.
Meanwhile, the decision to move the event overseas for lack of security has been the subject of a national debate in the cricket-crazy country, with some calling it politically motivated.
The country’s two biggest political parties have traded barbs over IPL’s decision, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calling it a “national shame”.
India’s home minister hit back on Monday, saying: “It appears that IPL is more than a game. It is a shrewd combination of sport and business. There is no reason to add politics to this combination.”
But Indian fans and cricketers were disheartened by the shift.
“It is disappointing that the IPL has been moved out of India. We will certainly miss playing in front of our supporters. It won’t be the same,” Sachin Tendulkar was quoted by Indian media.
But owners of the eight franchises supported the move.
“It’s disappointing, given the huge excitement that exists for the IPL in India. However, if the choice is no tournament or the tournament in another country, then we clearly prefer the latter,” Manoj Badale of the Rajasthan Royals said in a statement.