The duration of a Twenty20 game could just be longer if the IPL organisers have their way. The plan is to have two additional breaks and extend the duration of the match by 10 minutes.
Under the current ICC rules, the T20 game is a three-hour affair with only one interval of 15 minutes between the two innings.
Ten minutes may not seem much of an issue for an average spectator but for the broadcaster, it means megabucks. The idea of five-minute breaks squeezed between each innings is aimed to rake in more ad slots, which in turn will net more money.
Sources indicate that the commercial move, which could fetch the broadcaster nearly $5 million, will be given a completely cricketing makeover by converting it into a rule wherein captains could use that time to regroup and redraw strategies.
This means that after every 10 overs in every game, there will be a five-minute break. While the captains meet, the television audience will be bombarded with a barrage of ads.
Sources said that the plan is already a part of the BCCI-MSM (Sony Max) deal that was renegotiated recently. The fact that the 10-minute break per match will be used primarily for commercial purposes has also been inked in the deal.
Reports further suggest that as against the estimated commercial air-time of 2000 seconds per match last season, this time MSM would get 2600 seconds.
This is one major reason why there was a strong emphasis on targeting the prime-time television audience in India when the schedule was being finalised in South Africa.
Understandably, a leading T20 player was dumbfounded when told about the proposed new rule. “Is it? But why?” he asked.
“Is it going to be optional? Do you mean when Gambhir and Sehwag or Jayasuriya and Tendulkar are at the crease with 10 overs already under their belt, they’ll have to take this break?”
For the moment, the answers will have to wait.