Psst IPL, your attention on the format is needed

Posted: July 5, 2010 in Sports
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Yes, the great Indian Premier League is months away but judging from the long-drawn sparring between Lalit Modi and the Board FOR CONTROL of Cricket in India (BCCI), the attention of the men who matter is far away from getting down to the administration of the biggest draw in the cricketing world.
Expectedly, Modi is not taking the BCCI’s decision to initiate legal proceedings lying down and it is pretty obvious that Modi may have ignored every law book on the shelf but his decisions had the IPL (read BCCI) stamp on it – whether on paper or not doesn’t matter. The more BCCI honchos try to push him into the deep end of the water, the more they will risk falling into the quicksand surrounding it.
In the meantime, the format for the Champions League has been re-drawn following England’s withdrawal – blame it on Modi again – with a league format for teams reduced to 10 from 12.
The IPL, on the other hand, has roped in two more teams to upgrade from eight to a 10-team tournament, and for all you know the compromise formula to sweeten the bitter episode over the Kochi franchise could well be a 12-team affair.
Already even the supporters of Twenty20 cricket are saying the planned 90 matches that the 10-team event will entail is a bit on the higher side. Before we keep bickering about what is a done deal, we must understand that now that two franchises are on board, they got accommodated only because the TV company agreed to foot the bill and recover his costs from the added slots for advertisements from the extra matches.
But the jump from 60 matches in 2010 to 90, come April 2011, will be too much to digest. The middle approach could be to divide the teams into two a la Champions League this year and even if the matches are played on home-and-away basis, they still double up to 46 with two teams from each group emerging into the semi-finals.
My friends say that the only hitch is the viewing public (the limited few at any particular stadium) are deprived of seeing stars spread across the teams from the other group. In that case we could have a scenario where:
Five teams are divided into two groups and go down to four from each group (one team eliminated), who are redrawn into two groups on H&A league basis again with top two from each group into two-legged semi-finals and a final. Total: 69
Thus we can ensure we see a max of one or two teams missing out from the early stages and not much on the star value of players from the bottom teams.
The earlier we decide on the format, the better for the franchises who have to also plan afresh for picks from a new wave of players and a huge one at that compared to three years ago. How time moves fast.

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