UAE takes the cake

By Revatha S. Silva

Sri Lanka was overlooked, and so was New Zealand. Of all places, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was picked. So, the pandemic cannot be the reason, anyway (see fact box). Then, what is?

The Indian Premier League (IPL) Governing Body Chairman Brijesh Patel yesterday (21) confirmed to international media that the now-postponed 13th edition of the IPL will be held later this year in the UAE.

Manageable time difference and better facilities

“I think the franchisees (or franchise owners) need to have it (IPL) in UAE. It may be for unknown reasons. During the (Covid-19) pandemic, the UAE is reportedly run as if there is no pandemic at all,” an ex cricketer, who is in the know of present cricket-related politics, told The Morning Sports on condition of anonymity yesterday.

“They (UAE) have Sharjah, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi with a one-and-a-half-hour time difference (to India). If they are to play here in Sri Lanka, we need to play in four grounds. That is because of the IPL’s format. In addition, when the other facilities are considered, we have our basic facilities here. But in (the) UAE, they get all the top-notch facilities, from hotels to all other amenities,” said the former cricketer, further explaining why the UAE could have been favoured by the IPL Governing Body, ahead of both New Zealand and Sri Lanka.

Shrouded with fixing allegations

Yet, the region which houses the world governing body of the sport, the International Cricket Council (ICC) headquartered in Dubai, is plagued by cricket’s ugly betting industry too. It is also not a country that plays Test cricket. In addition, the Sharjah triangular and quadrangular tournaments of the 1980s earned notoriety for various fixing allegations in the past and were abandoned later, reportedly for the same reason.

The IPL too has often been criticised for its tendency towards corruption. Many players as well as franchise owners too have suffered bans for match-fixing allegations. One case in point was the life ban given to Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of former ICC Chairman Narayanaswamy Srinivasan and former Team Principal of Chennai Super Kings – one of the most successful teams in the IPL featuring Mahendra Singh Dhoni – by an inquiry committee headed by former India Chief Justice Rajendra Mal (RM) Lodha.

Could IPL be possibility anyway?

“Anyway, I personally don’t think the IPL will happen this year. That’s because some of the top players don’t want to go to the UAE because of the coronavirus situation prevailing there. Still a lot of discussions are going on, on its feasibility, even though they have finalised (yesterday) to have it in the UAE from this September,” the above former player added.

“We have applied (for permission) with the Indian Government. (We) should get it,” IPL Governing Body Chairman Patel was quoted as saying to the media yesterday. A window between 26 September and 7 November has now been allocated for the IPL, leaving enough time for the league’s Indian participants to join their next tour of Australia for four Tests, set to begin in December this year.

•IPL confirms its 2020 edition will be held in the Emirates