All the six franchises in the soon-to-be-launched T20 league in South Africa have been acquired by owners or co-owners of the Indian Premier League. The development may lead to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) soon agreeing for limited participation of Indian cricketers in overseas franchise-based leagues.
Reliance Industries Ltd., owners of Mumbai Indians, has been awarded the Cape Town franchise while Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd., Chennai Super Kings’ parent company, has acquired the Johannesburg franchise. The other owners are Lucknow Super Giants’ RPSG Sports PVt. Ltd. (Durban), Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Sun TV Network (Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth) Rajasthan Royals’ Royals Sports Group (Paarl) and Delhi Capitals’ co-owners JSW Sports (Pretoria).
Nita Ambani, RIL director, was delighted with the new acquisition. “We are excited to take the Mumbai Indians’ brand of fearless and entertaining cricket to South Africa, a nation that loves cricket as much as we do in India! South Africa has a strong sporting ecosystem, and we look forward to exploring the power and potential of this collaboration,” Mrs. Ambani said in a statement. “As we grow MI’s global cricketing footprint, we remain committed to spreading joy and cheer through sport!”
Chennai Super Kings CEO K.S. Viswanathan termed it a great opportunity for spotting talent. ““We have been evaluating new opportunities across the globe over the past few years. We felt this T20 league in South Africa will be highly competitive and it is a great opportunity for us to give back to the sport. It would also help us to spot new talent,” he said.
Interestingly, the move may be pivotal in the BCCI allowing Indian cricketers’ participation in overseas league. So far, with an eye on maintaining IPL’s quality and commercial appeal, the BCCI doesn’t allow any active cricketer to play in a league similar to IPL.
The Hindu understands that the BCCI hierarchy has been contemplating to allow Indian cricketers who are either past their prime or not selected by their domestic teams to play one or two overseas leagues every season. The details are likely to be worked out in the next couple of months.
Besides the pressure created by the franchises, the BCCI officials have been understood to have acceded to a similar request by majority of other cricket-playing boards during the process to finalise the international calendar from 2023 to 2027. It is understood that in return for getting an extended clear window of two and half months every year, the BCCI will let select players compete overseas.
It is not the first time an IPL franchise owner has invested in overseas leagues. The owners of Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals have a team each in the Caribbean Premier League. KKR owners have also invested in a franchise in the soon-to-be launched Major League Cricket in USA, with another franchise likely to join the bandwagon.
While a RIL-backed subsidiary has also acquired a team in the UAE League that is likely to clash with the league in South Africa, at least one more franchise is in talks with the UAE authorities to acquire a team.