Another bastion of cricket may fall to the growing allure of the Indian Premier League, if a report in a leading British daily is to be believed.
The Lord’s-based Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the conservative (and at times overzealous) custodians of cricket’s laws, is considering buying an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise worth up to $200 million in 2011, according to the report.
The IPL team will be based at Lord’s and play matches in England during the early part of the summer, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The report said the IPL was considering expanding two more franchises to the existing eight-team league and a consortium comprising the MCC was planning to make a bid.
Senior officials of the BCCI and IPL, however, termed it a “far-fetched move”. A top IPL official said, “How can we comment on something that hasn’t happened? We need to address the issue if the MCC really shows interest in buying a franchise. As of now, we do have a plan to have two more cities from India in that list of eight,” a top IPL official said.
The deal could rest on IPL commissioner Lalit Modi’s ‘willingness to do business with a buyer based outside India’, according to the report. The BCCI’s working committee is also expected to deliberate on the issue. Modi, though, is believed to be under pressure to maintain the IPL’s Indian identity and the MCC could face stiff competition from businessmen based in the subcontinent.
“Earlier this month, Lord’s attracted a crowd of almost 23,000, despite a low-key marketing campaign, for a match between Team Jaipur and Middlesex. It was the first time an IPL franchise had played in this country and it has been seen as an encouraging sign that the MCC could cash in on the worldwide expansion of T20,” the report said.
The report further said that the “MCC views the opportunity as a way to host more major matches at Lord’s”. The new bidding process for international matches in England has left the MCC facing the real prospect of hosting only one Test per summer at the mecca of cricket.
The ICC and the MCC’s association in the past has been limited to the MCC’s ‘Spirit of Cricket’ banner flying at all IPL matches. The MCC’s ambitions could also run into a roadblock because of the ECB’s media deal with Sky, as opposed to the IPL’s deal with Sony, the report said.