Ambitious plans for England to act as a stand-in host for the postponed Indian Premier League have been initiated by a small group of counties, the PA news agency understands.
The lucrative Twenty20 league was suspended on Tuesday due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis in India and, although the global calendar is already logjammed, the Board of Control for Cricket in India will be desperate to get its flagship event back up and running and protect the vast associated revenues.
Following reports in The Times and ESPNCricinfo, PA understands initial contact has been made with the England and Wales Cricket Board suggesting the likes of Lord’s, The Kia Oval, Emirates Old Trafford and Edgbaston as possible venues for the 31 remaining fixtures.
The ECB would need to adopt the project and the governing body suggested on Thursday that their counterparts were far from ready to engage.
A spokesperson told PA: “We speak to the BCCI regularly about tours and other matters and we’ll continue doing so, but we have received no indication that they are looking for alternative hosts for the IPL at the moment.”
The trajectory of the pandemic represents the biggest unknown, though the current course of events in England suggests by mid-September – when India’s Test series against England is due to finish – fans could be back at sporting events in big numbers.
That may prove an appealing prospect to organisers, who had to stage the 2020 edition behind closed doors in the United Arab Emirates and would not anticipate big ticket sales if the venue was used for a second time.
Furthermore, the UAE could be needed to host the T20 World Cup in October should India also be forced to relinquish that tournament and over-use of pitches may be a cause for concern.
It is believed the matches could be wrapped up in little over a fortnight if a model of two games a day and three on weekends was adopted, with a 3pm UK start time seen as ideal for the prime-time Indian broadcast market.
It is hard to predict what travel restrictions and quarantine requirements would be given the fast changing nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, but a high degree of logistical difficulty would be expected.
There are additional stumbling blocks, including the likely clashes with bilateral cricket should the IPL suddenly return in the immediate prelude to the T20 World Cup. But with plenty of determination to see the IPL played to a finish, some battles on that score appear inevitable.
Lord’s would present a most attractive option for the IPL final, though the Bob Willis Trophy final is currently scheduled to take place at the Home of Cricket between September 27 and October 1.