By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) With the 2020 edition of the Indian Premier League set to get underway from March 29 at the Wankhede Stadium, the IPL Governing Council is expected to finalise the tournament schedule by the first week of February. But with host broadcasters Star making it clear that they don’t want double headers, the team preparing the fixture has to plan the schedule in a way that franchises aren’t affected by the absence of their foreign stars.
While the Australia-New Zealand series ends with the final T20I being played on March 29, the second Test of the series between England and Sri Lanka technically ends only on March 31. So, teams which have players from Australia, New Zealand or England will start with a handicap at the start of the tournament.
Another major issue facing the GC is the decision on the starting time of games as Star is keen to start early and finish before midnight. But some of the franchises believe that having early play-off games is fine, but the league matches should start at 8 p.m as has been the norm.
Speaking to IANS, an official of one of the franchises said that the host broadcasters do not want double headers as that has disturbed the TRP. But some of the franchises feel that having double headers over the weekend is something that could have helped get kids to the game.
“See, we do agree that not just the broadcasters, even the franchises are affected revenue wise when you have a 4 p.m. game. But what you also need to realise is that the IPL is as much about the game of cricket as it is about getting kids and families to the stadium.
“Now, having kids to watch an afternoon game is a little easier in the weekend because that doesn’t hurt their schedule as such. To have the kids go back home late into the night isn’t something that is encouraged,” the official pointed.
Another official said that it was the issue of double headers which has seen the BCCI moving the start of the tournament to the last week of March rather than starting from April 1, a move that would help teams get a majority of their foreign recruits in the line-up.
“Had we gone in with double headers, we could have had our foreign players with us from the start of the tournament. Since that isn’t an option even on weekends, so we must start early so that the tournament ends by the last week of May. So, we have to do without our foreigners in the beginning,” the official told IANS.
In fact, another major area of concern is the start time of the games. Star is said to be keen to start around 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. so that the games end before midnight. But franchises believe that for crowds to come in at that point in time on a working day is almost impossible.
“If you are living in a metro, you do know the kind of traffic issues there is say in Delhi, Mumbai or Bengaluru. Do you seriously believe that it is possible for people to leave office at around 6 p.m. and then come into the stadium with their families by the time the game gets underway? This is an area that needs to be taken into consideration before changing the timing of the game,” the official pointed.