New Delhi: To sell or not to sell, is the question facing Indian cricket’s mandarins as they struggle to come to terms with the Lodha Commission’s hammer-strikes of Tuesday. With the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals suspended from the Indian Premier League for two years, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is scrambling to put together a viable tournament for 2016 and make sure it remains an eight-team event as part of its 60-match commitment to TV rights holder Multi Screen Media.
Adding its share of confusion to the scenario is Tuesday’s decision by India, Australia and South Africa to terminate the Champions League T20 scheduled for later this year, which will creat a void in the global cricket calendar.The IPL governing council is to meet in Mumbai this Sunday and the pressure is on to bring to the table alternatives that can keep the T20 money-spinner on the rails.
Towards that, the GC will have to decide on whether or not to sell the two suspended teams, run them as BCCI properties till the end of the suspension period, or allow the current owners to buy back in a different name or avatar.
Each option has its limitations. Both CSK and RR have said they plan to appeal the Lodha Committee verdict. The problem is that it was a Supreme Court-mandated body in the first place, and legal wiggle room is therefore restricted. Then, even before the Lodha panel findings, the banned Gurunath Meiyappan (CSK) and Raj Kundra (RR) were identified as being team officials/owners, and going by rules governing illegalities and collective responsibility, the two teams have even less scope to appeal the Lodha verdict.
IPL chairman Rajeev Shukla is to meet BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya in Kolkata to come up with some sort of a common platform and PTI quoted an unnamed Board official as saying. “We have started discussions on the way forward. We have studied the Justice Lodha Committee report. The Governing Council will discuss all aspects of this verdict and decide the future course of action.”
In case the decision is to sell the two teams, another issue crops up what about the original owners’ claim after the two-year suspension ends?
If so, the IPL then becomes a 10-team event and will spill over the available April-May window. Rights holders may have an issue with a bigger tournament as well. The other major issue facing the GC — and one that will be a direct fallout of what it decides is the fate of the players on the two teams. Both squads are star-heavy with Mahendra Singh Dhoni leading the parade. Others include Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis amd Brendon McCullum, (all CSK) and stand-in India skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Sanju Samson (RR) et all on sale again.
The next IPL auction was scheduled ahead of the 2017 tournament, and if new teams or even old ones like Kochi and Pune are inducted, it could well be held a year early....