March 24, 2009
South Africa has edged out England to be named host nation of the 2009 IPL. The decision was made after a meeting between the IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi, and the Cricket South Africa chief executive, Gerald Majola, in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Modi and Majola have scheduled a press conference for 3pm GMT, where an official announcement will be made. Cricinfo understands that the IPL's opening ceremony will be held in Cape Town, and the tournament will commence on April 18, a week later than initially scheduled. Johannesburg, Durban, Centurion, Port Elizabeth, East London and Cape Town will be announced as host venues.
South Africa had been considered the warm favourite to host the IPL's second season since IPL officials voiced concerns over the effect England's springtime weather might have on the tournament. England also faced issues in the form of cost, scheduling and the likelihood of conflict between television rights holders.
There had been much speculation as to where the IPL's second season would be based after Cricinfo identified South Africa as a possible destination last Friday. Senior officials from the IPL and CSA denied the report at the time, but have since been locked in intense discussions to finalise the unprecedented move.
With the decision now made, the real work begins. Security arrangements - which forced the tournament out of India - will need to be arranged, and an estimated 400 players and officials will require visas and accomodation. In all, 59 matches will be held over a six week period. Given the severe time constraints, it seems unfeasible that this year's IPL will possess the bells and whistles of 2008.
Modi was initially scheduled to fly to London on Tuesday night to meet with ECB officials, but it is unclear whether he will adhere to those travel plans. With time of the essence, logistical issues delayed the opportunity for a coherent response from the ECB, whose chairman, Giles Clarke, and chief executive, David Collier, had been on opposite sides of the world in Australia and Guyana respectively, when contacted by IPL officials last week. The pair reconvened for the first time at Lord's this morning, by which stage discussions with CSA were well underway.
"At no stage have we regarded this as a competition [to host the tournament]," Clarke told reporters at Lord's. "We were contacted by our Indian friends to find out whether we were in a position to help, because this was a very important tournament for cricket. We talked about the question of whether we were in a position to help."
Cricinfo - South Africa to host IPL