After the hype and commotion surrounding the inaugural Indian Premier League last year, the cricket did not fail to live up to expectations. Over 200 million people watched the tournament in India alone. A year on and the spectacle was all set to be even more exciting, greater sums of money being thrown about and bigger crowds swarming to all the grounds in the sub-continent.
A proverbial pin the balloon then as the ICC ruled out India for the hosts of their own Premier League just 3 weeks before the start of the competition. The cricket crazy fans in India were heartbroken, the headline writers going mad. Who was to blame? Would the tournament have to be cancelled? After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai and the furore they caused with the England touring party; then the Pakistani shootings bringing terrorism directly into the sport, it was small wonder that the ICC took this action.
The Indian Cricket Board, devastated as they were, understood fully; Ranjit Borthakur, vice chairman of the Rajasthan Royals saying â€œIf the choice is between no tournament and a tournament in another country, then we clearly prefer the latterâ€œ. England and South Africa were immediately drawn up on the shortlists as the new hosts, both holding strong hands: England would have benefitted hugely from the early season ticket sales and repertoire it would bring to a country with football still as its predominant sport; however, IPL chief Lalit Modi said that his biggest concerns were the weather, April in England having a bad reputation for inconsistency and unpredictability, a schedulerâ€™s worst nightmare. In addition, the majority of the grounds would have been preparing for the County Championship season, as well as a Test series against the West Indies in May.
South Africa has the benefit of being at the end of the cricket season, their Test series vs Australia concluding on Sunday. Their state sides finish their championship in the next few weeks and there should be no ground availability issues. Their strongest suit perhaps though was that the conditions for cricket there are so much easier to predict than their opponentsâ€™, with sun and warmth no issue for most of the South Hemisphereâ€™s summer. This, coupled with the nationâ€™s love of Twenty20 cricket posed too great an opportunity to pass up for the organisers as they announced that South Africa would host the tournament, albeit a week later than scheduled.
â€œThis event will strengthen the ties even further between South African and Indian cricket, as well as binding our nations even closer together.
"We are looking forward to hosting some of the world's best cricketers, and we can assure them they will be provided with the very best facilities to show their skills. We will do the IPL proudâ€ said Cricket South Africaâ€™s chief executive Gerald Majola, delighted with the news given to him earlier today.
England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke said that he was disappointed, but â€œnot overly surprisedâ€ at the decision. England have the Twenty20 World Cup later on in the summer to look forward to hosting, as well as the much awaited Ashes series. The IPL will do a great deal of good being held in South Africa, the financial assistant it will give to the grounds and cricket there is set to be enormous. No cricket fans in the world come close to rivalling the Indians, but the Proteas crowds will surely do their very best.