Will the IPL visit the Oval?

2009-03-27 00:00

THE hype surrounding the fast approaching IPL has not been lost on local folk and most seem to have the same question on their minds.

Why, with such a large Indian population, was Pietermaritzburg not even mooted as a possible venue for some of the world’s biggest stars? After numerous phone calls, e-mails and even smses, the answer seems to lie in the extremely tight time constraints that this week’s events have unfolded.

Local sports fans would no doubt lap up the chance to catch a glimpse of Shane Warne, Chris Gayle and even Kevin Pietersen in these parts, but it is not on the cards.

The release of the tournament fixture list yesterday has seen Bloemfontein and Kimberley added to the Wanderers, Centurion, Kingsmead, Newlands, St George’s Park and Paarl as venues.

According to Dolphins CEO Cassim Docrat, the logistical nightmare that organisers face means that the IPL has little room for experimentation.

“Certainly it would have been great to have some matches in Maritzburg, but one must understand that the choice of venues was not even in the hands of Cricket SA.”

Docrat’s comments suggest that the IPL brains trust plumped for venues that host international events on a fairly regular basis, and this would have counted against the Oval.

Local enthusiasts have not given up completely, however, with a group of local businessmen apparently in the process of drawing up a proposal for a late inclusion for the City of Choice. At this late stage, it seems that the best locals can hope for is to play host to some warm-up games.

Reports suggest that most of the Indian franchises were attracted by the prospect of being based in KZN, with its large Indian influence. So it is feasible to suggest that a few may look to have their preparations in these parts.

With regard to the main event, however, it seems that the boat has not so much sailed by, but never stopped for Inland cricket to even have a chance of climbing aboard. That decision was made by the IPL chiefs, but with political tension in Asia always simmering, one may see the lucrative competition return to these shores.

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