The last week was a busy one for the new-look IPL governing council, which sat down to discuss suggested tweaks ahead of IPL 2020. Manoj Narayan takes a closer look at the proposals.
IPL 2020 is a few months away, but the buzz around the tournament is already high – especially with plenty of changes rumoured ahead of the 13th edition of the tournament next year. Some of these changes are radical – they can match The Hundred in giving the traditionalists plenty of ammunition – and, as always with the IPL, some come with dollar signs attached.
It is important to note, though, that these are only proposals at the moment, being reported in the media. Not all have been confirmed and not all of them will come to fruition. The BCCI will still need to sign off on the ones that go through to it. That said, we take a look at what these changes might entail.
The no-ball umpire
According to ESPNcricinfo, the IPL might have a special umpire to monitor no-balls from the next edition, beyond the TV umpire and the third umpire. The IPL is keen to minimise errors related to over-stepping, of which there were quite a few high-profile cases in the last edition.
This is set to be the first major decision taken by the new IPL governing council, led by Brijesh Patel. The system will be tried out in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the domestic state association-based T20 tournament, starting on Friday, November 8, or the Ranji Trophy, the domestic first-class event, starting next month.
Virat Kohli, for one, will welcome the move. He was particularly enraged after his Royal Challengers Bangalore side lost to Mumbai Indians last year, with a Lasith Malinga no-ball going unnoticed, and fumed at the post-match presentation that it was the IPL, “not club cricket”.
What do we think? It’s much-needed. In August, the ICC announced similar trials in limited-overs series, empowering the TV umpire to make the front-foot calls. Having an extra pair of eyes to relieve the burden on the on-field umpire – who, let’s face it, has quite a bit to do – is only a good thing. Based on the trials, this should even be made standard practice in international cricket.
The question is, however, is it practical?
There was a shortage of elite neutral umpires during the Ashes earlier this year, and given that won’t change any time soon – unless the ICC does away with the neutral umpires rule – is there enough manpower to instate another umpire?
Russell in, Chawla out? Substitutions in the IPL
Among the more eye-catching considerations in the IPL governing council at the moment, if the Times of India reports are to be believed, is that we could see ‘power player’ substitutions within a squad of 15 during matches next year.
“We are looking at a scenario where a team will not name the playing XI,” TOI quoted a BCCI official as saying. “They will announce the 15 and a player can be substituted at either the fall of a wicket or at the end of the over at any point in the game.
“Imagine you need 20 runs off the last six balls and you have Andre Russell sitting in the dug-out as he wasn’t a hundred per cent [fit] and was part of the original XI. But now, he can just walk in and go slam-bang and win you the game.”
What do we think? Among all the proposals being reported, this seems the most far-fetched. This is more than a tweak; it will be a restructure, to a format and a tournament that probably doesn’t need it. There’s a lot to consider and the move could be a game-changer.
Introducing ‘power players’ will make it more of a team game, with all 15 players in a squad standing an equal chance of making a difference, and not just the XI. It’s all a pointer too, to the fact that the T20 game, and the players’ roles in it, are becoming very specific. This might well lead to specific players being targeted in the auction, specialists in one-over burst or just the powerplays.
The IPL 2020 comes to … Canada?
In another first, the new IPL governing council is keen to allow teams to play friendlies overseas before the main tournament, as long as these friendlies don’t have any official IPL tag associated with it.
According to the report in the Times of India, the franchises have for long been keen to spread their wings, and ahead of the next edition, it seems Mumbai Indians approached the BCCI with a request to sanction them playing a match in Canada.
The BCCI has always been steadfast in its refusal to allow contracted players to participate in overseas tournaments, but this could see them loosen their leash a bit.
What do we think? The IPL has, since its inception, been inspired by the Premier League. This idea will be another one that follows in the path of the premiership teams, and how they use pre-season friendlies to market themselves in Asia. Only, instead of Asia, the IPL teams are likely to target the expat population in Canada, as Mumbai Indians are interested in doing, and the Caribbean, where Kolkata already have interests in. From a marketing perspective, for the growth of the IPL brand and franchises, this could be huge.
The question, as always in cricket these days, is how this will be squeezed into an already packed schedule. India’s domestic season is already in full swing, and the peak is yet to come. Meanwhile, international cricket carries on like a juggernaut, with teams preparing for next year’s T20 World Cup. That means, inevitably, it’s the players who will have to compromise, as this will likely eat into their period of rest, or it will be second-string teams at the friendlies. The BCCI has to consider that as well.