The Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Council has come up with encouraging franchises to explore the idea of playing ‘friendlies’ overseas.
The Council has just proposed the idea and will be submitting it for approval at the BCCI AGM by the end of this month. However, the call from the Governing Council on Tuesday considered the possibility for India’s domestic cricket to go global for the first time in 12 years since the start of the tournament. The Indian cricket board (BCCI) has so far refused to encourage either franchises or cricketers to play overseas, a decision to which the court-appointed Administrators committee (COA) has also adhered.
“There’s a very simple way to look at it. Until now, if you were in Canada and were interested in watching Mumbai Indians play, you had to fly all the way to India. If you were in the Caribbean, interested in watching Shahrukh Khan’s Kolkata Night Riders in action, you had no choice but to travel half the globe. Now, the circus may come to a town near you,” says an industry executive.
Mumbai Indians have been among the first in the past to ask the BCCI for permission to play some friendly games in Canada.
Similarly, the possibility of Kolkata knight Riders touring the Caribbean, where the franchise owner Khan owns another T20 team; the potential of Chennai Super Kings moving to Singapore, a nation that supplies an immense Tamilian diaspora; Sunrisers Hyderabad creating a fan base in the Silicon Valley, a global techie center for Andhra- born coders– theses always had tremendous potential.
“It was time that something like this was considered. Who knows? Next, it could be the players, maybe fringe players from India being allowed to play abroad,” say those familiar with developments.
It is unclear whether any IPL franchise has picked up an overseas destination in the coming months for a pre-season tour.
“It is imperative for such ideas to be given priority. When the IPL went to South Africa 10 years ago, the fanfare there caught the global imagination. Even a 20-day stint in UAE, in 2014, had an alarming effect. There’s a market and this is business. It has to grow if the sport has to,” industry veterans said.
The recent IPL study by Duff and Phelps, a US-based consultancy firm, found them worth the property at $6.3b (approx. Rs 46,000 crore). The annual revenue alone recorded by the NBA is about $8b (approx. Rs58,000 cr). “That’s not a huge gap considering IPL is just a 13-year-old property. Now, look at the potential over the next decade or two,” they added.
Before approval, however, a lot will have to be figured out. With India’s domestic season set to begin, national teams busy with bilateral commitments and IPL teams overseas players busy with respective national duties, it may be difficult for the franchises to set up a star-studded traveling unit.
“These things take time, but after a while, these things can be planned better,” sources say.