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IPL’s relocation checklist

Firdose Moonda

Posted: Mar 31, 2009 at 0928 hrs IST

Johannesburg: How long would it take you to relocate to another country? A month, perhaps two? The Indian Premier League (IPL) had just a few days to move. That’s a little over three weeks to ensure the entire tournament settles into its new temporary home in South Africa. The logistics are mind-boggling — over 400 hotel rooms will be booked every night for six weeks, over 10,000 flight tickets will be needed to ferry players and officials, and eight stadiums in eight different cities will host 59 matches between them. A source close to Cricket South Africa (CSA) said the magnitude of the event hadn’t hit home just yet, but hoped that when it did, the organisers would not find themselves in an administrative tsunami. But CSA, which has successfully hosted a World Cup in 2003 and a T20 World Championship in 2007, believes it has the capacity and the infrastructure to organise a multi-team event of this nature with aplomb. Here are some of the logistics that the IPL organisers, who arrived here last Wednesday, are looking at:


The stadiums for the tournament will be managed by the IPL and will be handed over to them once the last domestic game has been played on each ground. The South African domestic season ends with matches in Johannesburg, Kimberley and East London on April 5, 12 days before the IPL is due to start.

The IPL matches will also be held at Kingsmead in Durban, Newlands in Cape Town, St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth and The Wanderers in Johannesburg. The only stadium to host a local match after the IPL starts is SuperSport Park in Centurion, which will be the venue of the World Cup Qualifiers final on April 19.

So the first IPL match in Centurion has been scheduled for April 28, giving them ample time to prepare. All the unions are confident that they will be ready for the tournament. Elise Lombard, CEO of the Titans in Centurion, which is set to host 12 IPL matches, said: “Practice facilities are in top condition and the stadium is match-ready.” Andre Odendaal of the Cobras franchise in Cape Town believes his union is well-placed to host the opening matches, even though it will entail two double-headers on consecutive days. He told The Indian Express: “We have hosted the opening ceremony of the 2003 World Cup and matches of the World T20 Championship in 2007. We hosted double headers then, so we are prepared for it. It will be a good way to get the energy going for the tournament.”

Cassim Docrat, CEO of the Durban-based Dolphins franchise, is looking forward to integrating the IPL showpiece and the city’s large Indian population. Kingsmead will receive the lion’s share of the matches, 16 in total, with five double headers.

Docrat said: “We will be working with the Indian consulate to bring a cultural element to the tournament. The Bollywood angle will be lapped up by the community here, and we will definitely be getting the bunny-chows out.” The unions are meeting in Johannesburg to discuss further plans. Ticket sales, too, are set to open in the next 48 hours. IPL chairman Lalit Modi had said the tickets will be cheaper than those for international T20s, but more costly than domestic matches. That will place them somewhere between R20 and R80 (approx Rs 106 and Rs 424).

Pitches and ground facilities

South Africa will be ensconced in autumn in April/May but that should not affect pitches significantly. The warmer coastal regions of Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London will be virtually unaffected. Cape Town is known for its winter rain, but the IPL will end before the rainy season starts. Conditions inland, particularly in Johannesburg and Centurion, tend to get drier. Chris Scott, groundsman at The Wanderers, said he expects a drop in temperatures but will counteract any aridness with fertilisers.

Scott told The Indian Express that “preparing a T20 pitch is easier than preparing a Test pitch”, so he doesn’t anticipate any problems. “All our leave was cancelled because of the IPL.”


IMG will produce the world feed. James Rego, who is in charge of production, said the engineering crew will arrive in South Africa between April 5 and April 10. According to tournament director Dhiraj Malhotra, there will be more cameras — 29, besides six Hawk-eyes — at every match. Percy Dubash, who handles IPL publicity, said that the list of commentators include Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, L Sivaramakrishnan, Arun Lal, Ramiz Raja, Pommie Mbangwa, Kepler Wessels, Robin Jackman, Danny Morrison, Ranjit Fernando, Alastair Campbell, Simon Doull, Abbas Ali Baig, Greg Blewett and Jeremey Coney. Local broadcaster SuperSport will broadcast all 59 matches live in South Africa.

Docky Dockrat, SuperSport’s internal production manager, told The Indian Express that the broadcaster will be dedicating a 12-hour channel to the event.

Hotels and flights

IPL organisers have only just begun trying to untangle this logistical knot. Malhotra said they were holding meetings to settle the matter in the coming week. The hotel partner is likely to be the Southern Sun group, which is the official partner to CSA and plays host to the South African team and visiting teams to the country. The group has hotels in all eight cities where the tournament will be held.

The Southern Sun Newlands told The Indian Express that they had already been informed about the arrival of IPL teams and were gearing up to host them. But the Sandton Sun, where the IPL organisers are staying, said they knew nothing about the tournament plans.

Priya Naidoo, general manager of the Southern Sun group, said the group was in “advanced negotiations with the IPL” and will be able to provide confirmation in the coming week. As for flights, South African Airways looks set to do most of the internal travel and it is also the official partner to the South African team. Robyn Chalmers, spokesperson for SAA, confirmed that the airline was hopeful of being involved but the details were yet to be finalised.

According to him, the “SAA will be conducting a probe to establish their capacity and what is available in terms of aircraft” before deciding if there would be sufficient availability on existing flights or if they would need to charter planes.


The tournament’s security will be handled by the South Africa-based firm Nicholls Steyn & Associates. The company is headed by Rory Steyn, who was bodyguard to former South African President Nelson Mandela, and Bob Nicholls, who is known in India for his involvement in the rescue operation at Mumbai’s Taj Mahal hotel.

The company was due to provide security for the postponed Twenty20 Champions League and had provided security during the 2003 World Cup and 2007 World T20 Championships.

It was also contracted to provide security for the IPL in India. South Africans will be going to the polls on April 22. Around that time matches will be taking place in Durban and Cape Town. The government has assured Modi that security will not be a concern during the elections.

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