The moment Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi switched his travel plans to go Johannesburg instead of London, it was evident where the second edition of the Twenty20 cricket tournament is headed.
Modi dropped enough hints in his now famous late night exclusive interviews to Indian television channels to suit the prime time overseas, that South Africa is his preference, the fickle late winter weather ruling England out.
He said the organisers needed to take the weather pattern into account besides other factors like the April 26 London marathon which could make getting rooms extremely difficult. And then there is the English County season and the Test and One-day series against the West Indies.
Modi had made it clear that South Africa is a more attractive proposition what with their domestic season ending before the IPL gets underway. In England, some key venues will not be available for the IPL games without disrupting their domestic programme.
Moreover, South Africa is closer to India and that would give a time advantage over England.
Importantly, in this time of recession, the cost of holding the tournament will be cheaper in South Africa than in England, though the overall expenses will go a manifold because of the switch from India.
The other vexed problem for the organisers was the TV rights issue. In South Africa, Supersport has the rights to the IPL as well as all international cricket played in the country whereas in England Setanta holds the IPL rights and Sky Sports the international rights. Sky will have to telecast the England-West Indies series when the IPL would be on.
Simply put, South Africa has good stadiums, impeccable facilities and perfect weather to boot. Of course, the presence of Indian diaspora will be as good as it is in England and they all enjoy the shortest version of the game as seen in the Twenty20 World Championship two years ago.