The news comes amid the expectation that next year’s multiphase general elections in India are likely to be held in a window that is set to coincide with the IPL. The competition itself is facing scheduling challenges due to the ICC Cricket World Cup, which begins in England on 30th May.
The final of the 2018 IPL took place on 27th May and such a timeframe would not be possible in 2019 due to the World Cup. Thus, the IPL is said to be considering a late March start date, making a clash with elections viewed as a significant possibility.
Should these events transpire, South Africa is thought to be considered the preferred contingency plan of IPL bosses, with the country previously having hosted the lucrative competition in 2009.
The decision to move the tournament in 2009 came as a result of a combination of issues. A general election saw the Indian government refuse to provide security forces requested by the IPL in the wake of the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore a month prior to the tournament. The move was deemed an enormous success, with the IPL generating a US$100 million boost to the nation’s local economy.
According to a report in Indian daily newspaper Hindustan Times, IPL executives are awaiting news from the government regarding its election dates before making a final decision on the host nation of the flagship Twenty20 league.
However, if – as expected – the two events overlap, South Africa will be called upon to host the entire tournament, with a reluctance to move between countries during the event.
With the World Cup beginning at the end of May, it is assumed that each participating nations’ governing bodies will recall their players to join respective training camps some time before the tournament.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla said: “If the dates of the general elections clash with those of the Indian Premier League, then the tournament will be held outside the country. But as of now, we are waiting for the dates to decide on how to go ahead with the scheduling.
Quoted by South Africa Cricket Mag, Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe added: “It remains speculation for now until such time that the government of India announces the date for elections. But there is an appetite from them to move it to either SA or Dubai.”
However, it is thought that Dubai would be unable to host an entire tournament single-handedly, with the United Arab Emirates only possessing three cricket stadia: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium and Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Moroe did, though, speak warily of the feasibility of his country stepping in. He explained: “There are issues of wear and tear as far as our wickets are concerned and [issues regarding] our competitions because we are going to host the U19 World Cup in the next two years.
“Should we continue with our domestic T20 Slam this year‚ the tournament will also add to the workload on the wickets. Those are all things we must take cognisance of before we make a decision.”
England was considered as an alternative venue in 2009 before losing out to South Africa, partially due to the propensity for matches to be weather-affected. With the potential for a March start date and an upcoming World Cup almost immediately after the conclusion of the IPL, the competition coming to England in 2019 seems unlikely.
The 2018 edition of the tournament saw the Chennai Super Kings win their third title as the team returned from a two-year suspension following the alleged involvement of the team’s owners in a betting scandal.