The Cape fits
South Africa was always going to get the nod over England as the new host of the IPL, says Bob Willis.
Last Updated: 25/03/09 11:50am
South Africa was always going to get the nod over England as the new host of the Indian Premier League.
It's unfortunate that the ECB's big-hitters were away in Guyana and Australia when the matter of finding a replacement host was coming to a head, but realistically there was only one option - mainly because of the weather.
There is no way of guaranteeing even a single rain-free day in England between the new scheduled dates of April 18 and May 24, and the prospects for South Africa are much brighter.
There are other reasons Cricket South Africa's claim was a more attractive one, too: the timezone there will make it easier to broadcast the games in Indian prime-time.
And, as many people have made mention of, the cost of hiring all the workers needed to make the tournament a success - from freelance cameramen to ice-cream sellers - will be far cheaper there than it would be here.
And I also think there would have been major problems with an international tournament going on in England while the ECB was trying to sell tickets for the two May Test matches against the West Indies.
That is not to say the ECB should be criticised for throwing England's hat in the ring.
In fact, I think they should be looking to get a lot closer to the IPL and the Indian Cricket Board in general. There is a huge financial factor to be considered when there are Indian players on view and broadcast rights to be sold.
Ideally, of course, the tournament would have remained in India where it belongs, but with elections imminent and lingering nervousness following last year's Mumbai attacks, I don't think that was feasible.
It's a shame both for the Indian supporters, whose passionate support of their local teams provides a good deal of the IPL's spectacle, and for the players.
Andrew Flintoff has been quoted as saying part of the attraction for signing up was the chance to play in India, and the length of his and Kevin Pietersen's involvement - indeed that of all five England Test players bought up - will now be a week shorter.
But wherever cricket is played in the world you will find Indian supporters coming out in numbers, and there are certainly large pockets of Indian population in Durban and East London, which are both on the list of scheduled venues.
On top of that, there is much more of an appetite for one-day cricket than Test cricket in South Africa, and the World Twenty20 there in 2007 was very well attended.
That was in no small part down to sensible ticket pricing. If the organisers can get that right again I see no reason why the IPL cannot still be a huge success.
Is Bob right? Should the ECB be looking to forge closer links with the IPL? Let us know what you think about this - and the decision to switch it to South Africa - by filling in the feedback form below...