Dubai: The UAE is ready to step in as hosts of IPL 2020 if the Indian cricket board eventually decides to shift the tournament outside the country in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The cash-rich league may earn a window for itself if the International Cricket Council (ICC), as widely expected, postpone the T20 World Cup - scheduled in October-November in Australia.
There are precedents of the IPL being held overseas twice during it’s 12-year-old history - with the entire 2009 edition being held in South Africa while the UAE had hosted the opening leg of the 2014 tournament. It was the Parliamentary elections in India on both occasions which had prompted the change of venue.
Confirming that UAE had made the offer to BCCI, Mubashshir Usmani, General Secretary of Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) told Gulf News: ‘‘We have a proven record of being hosts as a neutral venue for various bilateral and multi-nation cricket activities in the past. Our state-of-the-art venues and facilities make the Emirates a desired place for hosting all types of cricket.
ECB had, in fact, offered their venues to the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to complete the English season here as well. ‘‘We have come forward and offered our venues to both England and India. In the past, Emirates Cricket Board has successfully hosted IPL matches in UAE. We have also hosted matches involving England team on multiple occasions previously. If our offer is taken up by either of the Boards, then we will be pleased to facilitate hosting of their matches,’’ he added.
A clearer picture about the window for IPL, which has been ‘postponed indefinitely’ after the India-wide lockdown, may emerge if the ICC makes a formal announcement regarding the World T20 following their next board meeting through video conference on June 10 (Wednesday). Cricket Sri Lanka is the other country, alongwith the UAE, who had expressed their interest to stand in as hosts.
Meanwhile, a news agency report on Saturday claims that the decision-makers in BCCI are divided 3-2 in terms of selection of the venue of the money-spinning league.
A BCCI official told IANS said that while the general thought is that having the league in India will mean that the country has come out of the clutches of the pandemic, there are a few who feel that if the situation demands, the league can be taken to places outside India.
The Indian board is set to incur a loss to the tune of Rs 40 billion ($530 million) if the league eventually does not take place this year.