This year was slated to be another blockbuster year with the shorter format World Cup to be played Down Under. And then, all the plans started unravelling – nation by nation, series by series. The IPL, the world’s richest cricket league, had been indefinitely postponed since March. There had been very realistic concerns that the 13th edition of the league might be written off, much to the consternation of both fans and the vast sporting and economic ecosystem that is catalysed when the 45-day cricket carnival comes to town.
With the ICC T20 World Cup officially off the cards this year, a silver lining has emerged. The gap in the cricketing calendar is perfectly suited for the IPL. With no other cricket scheduled during that time, the participation of international stars is guaranteed. Weather conditions will also be favourable, no matter where the tournament is finally played.
Brijesh Patel, Chairman of the IPL Governing Council has stated that The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has zeroed in on UAE and has written to the government seeking permission to hold the tournament in UAE and are awaiting the go-ahead. This development is certain to cheer up millions of fans who haven’t seen their heroes in action for months. Corporate India too is waiting with bated breath for the government’s decision. In a year bereft of live sports, the prospect of an October IPL is heaven-sent for advertisers. Anticipation will be sky-high and this logically will translate to even more eyeballs than normal. The IPL contributes more than $150 mn to the GDP. In today’s bleak economic environment, this could well be the fillip it needs.
It’s well-known that the IPL is not just a series of matches, it is an event that galvanizes marketing spend through sponsorships and TRPs, it supports an ecosystem of hospitality, merchandisers, related events and entertainment, and also keeps media and news outlets completely hooked on all the on-field and off-field activities.
Cricketing boards, which are in doldrums currently, will also benefit from the IPL as each board receives 20 per cent of earnings of its players – as a release fee. In the suspended thirteenth season of the IPL, overseas players are slated to make a total of around Rs 240 crore. That’s a cool Rs 48 crore for their boards.
With Test cricket returning to England, and the resumption of league football in Europe, one can certainly be optimistic about the probability of IPL 13 taking place in October. In a year where the scorecards have been very different and grim, the idea of nail-biting excitement and closely fought battles between bat and ball is certainly one that millions will look forward too. Here’s to hoping that it is Cricket 1, Covid 0!