Weather could cost England chance to host IPL

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The Independent Online

England's wet and cool weather could cost the country's chances of hosting the Indian Premier League cricket competition.

England and South Africa are the two candidates to hold the lucrative tournament, which has been moved out of India at short notice for security reasons.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi met with Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola today in Johannesburg to assess venues and logistics.

Modi, who is set to visit England on Wednesday, wants the tournament to be run as scheduled from 10 April to 24 May.

He had already mentioned the weather as a factor and was widely reported today to favor South Africa's warmer climate over that in England, which averages about 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) in April and 55 F (13 C) in May.

Management company IMG helped set up the IPL, which features eight city-based franchises and more than 300 cricketers and officials, and senior vice president Andrew Wildblood accompanied Modi to South Africa.

"Weather is crucial in cricket and it is a very important consideration among a number of important considerations," Wildblood said Tuesday. "If you were in a position where all other things were equal, but one country could guarantee good weather and the other couldn't, that could very well be the deciding factor."

Wildblood stressed that organizers would look at what both countries could offer before making a decision.

"We're not in that situation now," Wildblood told the BBC. "We won't know what situation we're in until we've looked at the operational issues in each of the potential places.

"Once we've done that we'll make a call but, obviously, weather is critical to good cricket."

Majola was confident that South Africa could stage a successful tournament. South Africa is also closer to India in time zones, making the tournament easier to schedule for television, and is almost certainly able to stage games more cheaply.

"We have good stadiums, good facilities, good weather and good crowds for Twenty20 cricket," Majola told the BBC. "I still need to hear from him what his requirements are. As far as we know he still wants the tournament to start on the 10th and from our point of view that is feasible."

The 59-match event, due to start in less than three weeks, would likely attract big crowds in English cities with large Asian populations. But it would clash with the English county season, which begins 9 April, as well as the national team's home test series with West Indies.

The World Twenty20 also starts at Lord's on 5 June, just 12 days after the IPL ends.

The England and Wales Cricket Board could face pressure from British subscription broadcaster Sky Sports — the rights-holder for the England national team — which would not want those telecasts overshadowed by rival IPL rights-holder Setanta.

Supersport holds the IPL rights and those for international cricket in South Africa, making broadcast more straightforward there.