Weather and proximity clinch IPL for South Africa

Johannesburg, March 25: Weather and proximity to India were the decisive factors in South Africa edging past England as hosts of the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has now been shortened to five weeks starting April 18. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief Gerald Majola in a joint press conference confirmed that the second edition of the Twenty20 league, which was moved out of India because of security reasons, will be held in six venues in South Africa.

The venues include Durban, Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

“We are very happy to confirm that South Africa will host the 2009 DLF Indian Premier League tournament. We would like to thank Cricket South Africa very much for the support they have given us over the past few days, which has helped us to come to this decision.

“The prime reason to have it in South Africa is because the weather conditions during April-May are more favourable than in United Kingdom. Both countries have excellent facilities and they have been extremely supportive to hold the matches there. I thank England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for their support,” Modi said.

“It will be a five-week tournament but the number of games (59) will remain the same. It will be broadcasted live by Supersport who have been the partner since last year.”

“Earlier we had one game during week days and two over the weeekends. But now we will have 22 days of double headers.”

The tournament was scheduled to begin April 10 but has now been pushed back by eight days to buy some time to put the logistics together for the 59-match, 37-day tournament.

It will also allow the Indian team which is currently touring New Zealand to spend some time at home before a packed international schedule.

“We have given ourselves extra time because we are starting from ground zero.”

“We will have close to 1,000 people arriving in South Africa. We will have few hundred people arriving in next 24 hours who will be working with us. We are going to occupy in excess of 30,000 hotels rooms and 10,000 airline tickets. It would be great for the South African economy,” Modi said.

Modi said it will be expensive for the team owners but IPL has decided to bear the cost difference.

“It is going to be expensive. We took the decision irrespective of the cost. We would cover the differential in loss the club owners will incur.”

Asked whether Pakistani players will be included now that the tournament is being played outside India, Modi said: “There will no change in tournament rules. The squad has already been picked by the teams.”

CSA chief Majola said: “CSA is delighted to accept the invitation from Modi to host the 2009 DLF Indian Premier League tournament.”

“This is a great compliment to both CSA and our nation to be shown this confidence in our ability to hold one of the world’s top sporting events at short notice.

“The organisers can be assured that they have the full support of CSA’s infrastructures and of the South African public to stage a successful tournament.

“This event will strengthen the ties even further between South African and Indian cricket, as well as binding our nations even closer together,” he said.

The fixtures will be announced in due course.