When the Indian Premier League (IPL) was launched last September on the lines of football’s English Premier League and the National Basketball League (NBA) of the US, cricket pundits said it was the BCCI’s answer to the Indian Cricket League’s rebel series. And with good reason. The Board of Control for Cricket in India had thrown in bigger prize money, bigger stars and the support of every major cricket nation.
The IPL, which makes its debut on 18 April, will have eight city teams vying over 44 days for $3 million (Rs12.13 crore) in prize money. The top two teams join the top two clubs from the Australian, South African and English T20 leagues for an eight-team Champion’s League in October 2008.
Each team must have at least four local players and not more than three foreign players. The rest of the squad of 16 will be non-local Indians. Four players must be under 21.
Each IPL team plays seven home games and seven away. The 56 league games are followed by two semi-finals and the final. The Champion’s League divides teams into two groups of four. The 12 group matches are followed by the semi-finals and the final. The semis and the final will be played in one city, over one weekend.
The league has contracted top 80 players according to ICC rankings, from all cricket playing nations.
Kolkata Knight Riders captain Sourav Ganguly with teammate Ricky Ponting during a practice session on 17 April. (PTI photo)
The Twenty20 matches will primarily be played under lights with play beginning 5pm. Two matches will be scheduled each day.
The league’s most revolutionary aspect is a franchise system under which the eight teams will be owned by companies, which can list them on the bourses. The franchisees must pay the BCCI a fee but will get to share revenues.
Indian cricket board vice-president Lalit Modi said the model was inspired by the US basketball and baseball leagues.
The board set up a governing council to run the IPL as a virtual company. The IPL governing council will have five-year term and will run, operate and manage the league independently of the BCCI.
The council comprises former BCCI President I. S. Bindra, Vice-Presidents Rajiv Shukla, Chirayu Amin and Lalit Modi, Arun Jaitley, and former cricketers Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri. While the BCCI officials will be honorary members, Pataudi, Gavaskar and Shastri will be paid for their services.