All 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 could lead to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) soon accepting limited participation of Indian cricketers in overseas franchise-based leagues.
Reliance Industries Ltd., owners of Mumbai Indians, got the Cape Town franchise while Chennai Super Kings Cricket Ltd., the parent company of Chennai Super Kings, acquired the Johannesburg franchise. The other owners are RPSG Sports PVt of Lucknow Super Giants. ltd. (Durban), Sun TV Network of Sunrisers Hyderabad (Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth), Royals Sports Group of Rajasthan Royals (Paarl) and Delhi Capitals co-owners, JSW Sports (Pretoria).
Nita Ambani, director of RIL, was delighted with this new acquisition. “We are thrilled to bring the fearless and entertaining Indian brand of cricket from Mumbai to South Africa, a nation that loves cricket as much as we do in India! South Africa has a strong sports ecosystem and we look forward to exploring the power and potential of this collaboration,” Ms Ambani said in a statement. “As we grow MI’s global cricketing footprint, we remain committed to spreading cheer and joy through sport!”
Chennai Super Kings CEO KS Viswanathan called it a great opportunity to spot talent. “We have been evaluating new opportunities around the world over the past few years. We believe this T20 league in South Africa will be very competitive and it’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the sport. It would also help us spot new talent,” he said.
Interestingly, this decision could be crucial for the BCCI, allowing the participation of Indian cricketers in the foreign league. So far, in an effort to maintain the quality and market appeal of IPL, BCCI does not allow any active cricketers to play in any league similar to IPL.
The Hindu understands that the BCCI hierarchy have considered allowing Indian cricketers who are past their prime or who are not selected by their national teams to play one or two overseas leagues every season. Details should be ironed out in the coming months.
Apart from the pressure created by the franchises, BCCI officials reportedly acceded to a similar request from the majority of other cricket playing councils during the process of finalizing the 2023-2027 international schedule. It is understood that in exchange of obtaining an extended clear window of two and a half months each year, the BCCI will allow certain players to compete abroad.
This is not the first time an IPL franchise owner has invested in overseas leagues. The owners of the Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals each have a team in the Caribbean Premier League. The owners of KKR have also invested in a Major League Cricket franchise that will soon be launched in the United States, with another franchise likely to join the movement.
While an RIL-backed subsidiary has also acquired a UAE League side likely to come into conflict with the South African league, at least one other franchise is in talks with UAE authorities to acquire a team.