The Indian Premier League (IPL) is by far the most lucrative domestic T20 league in the world. There already exists an ‘Official’ Window for the IPL: for 4-5 weeks in April – May no major test playing nation plays any international cricket. The 9th Season of the IPL was arguably the most closely contested season and also did not have any big controversies. This helped IPL’s brand value to reach an all-time high of $ 4.16 billion as well.
After the Champions League T20 (CLT20) was scrapped, an official window of 3 weeks every September exists in the ICC Future Tours’ Programme (FTP). BCCI wants to organize the “Mini IPL” during this window. Having a Mini IPL will further improve the brand of the IPL and the franchises will get more value from their investments. This will also eventually ensure that the salaries of players increase further.
The salaries earned by IPL players are at par with that of many top sporting leagues as per this survey. Several international players earn more money playing for and in the IPL than they earn from the contracts they have for representing their country throughout the year. Also, as most of these players would have been taking part in the CLT20 anyway, a Mini IPL will not, in principle, add to their work load.
The Mini IPL has a 3 week window for this year; 15-20 T20 matches can easily be held conducted overseas at venues like the UAE, SA, England etc. Ideally, it would be better if the BCCI would conduct Mini IPL at venues where there isn’t much top quality international cricket being played, so that they can spread the game. As the majority of the revenue generated from the Mini IPL will be from the sale of broadcast rights, the ticket prices can be kept low to ensure that the curious local population can come and watch the matches. T20 can be used to further popularize the game of cricket in new territories.
Given that there will be so few matches in the Mini IPL, almost every game will have some context. It will go a long way in ensuring that fans from all over the world, and especially India, tune in to watch the matches. One of the major reasons for the CLT20 failing to reach its projected revenue targets was because of the participation of weaker teams, which led to one sided matches and teams with small fan bases playing. This will not be the case with the Mini IPL as we have most of the top international stars playing and all the teams (yes, even the new franchises) have established fan bases.
Organizing a Mini IPL this year might be a challenge given India’s packed home calendar.
India’s tour of West Indies ends on August 22.
India A’s Tour of Australia ends on September 18.
New Zealand’s Tour of India begins on September 22.
BCCI president Anurag Thakur has said that the Duleep Trophy, which will be held between August 22 and September 22, will feature all the top players.
But the Mini IPL is sure to be played from 2017 onwards, and it might not necessarily be a bad thing. Many cricket fans will surely be looking forward to the Mini IPL when it starts.
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