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IPL could expand to 10 teams, 10 weeks in next few years

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There’s absolutely no doubt that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the best (if not the best) T20 league in the world. Best players from all across the globe rub hands with and against each other. Hence, the former chief operating officer of the IPL, Sundar Raman admitted that the IPL could become a 10-team affair in the next few years. He felt the IPL was ‘more mature’ than it was back when it started out in 2008.

I definitely think that a 10-team IPL is on the horizon in two to three years. There is a need to expand. IPL is a more mature game now than what it was in 2008,” Sundar Raman was quoted saying exclusively to Telegraph Sport.

Back in 2011, the IPL did expand to 10 teams. The inclusion of Kochi Tuskers Kerala (KTK) and Pune Warriors India (PWI) made it a 74-game tournament. However, KTK remained with the IPL for just one year while PWI played for three years (2011-13). Last year, the 12th season of the IPL took 51 days to complete. The current IPL format has a total of 60 games – 56 league encounters and four playoff games.

However, the plan is to extend the total number of games to 94 with 10 teams. Accordingly, the window of the tournament needs to be extended as well and about 10 weeks is being looked at.

Also, with the talent pool at the disposal of the IPL, it could generate a lot more revenue and make the players earn a significant bit as well. Hence, Raman seriously thinks there is a need for the IPL to expand and make the move.

The amount of infrastructure that’s available, the amount of talent that is available, and the amount of revenue that these players can earn and make a living out of it requires some serious consideration – and I would think that it is a requirement of the league for IPL to expand. If IPL has to expand and that’s what will grow the game, why not?” Raman further explained.

However, an expansion in the IPL window to 10 weeks may affect the international calendar. There’s been a lot of talk around how congested the calendar is for the players already. The expansion might well eat into the break-off or cooling off period of the players as well. The current format already collides with the start of the English summer and more often than not, the England players have missed the back end of the IPL season. International calendars may have to tweak a little more than normal if that is the case.

Increasing the IPL could create conflict and therefore the middling boards will not be able to have their international matches. That is something that, yes, being thought of honestly – yes maybe that’s an issue. But how can we make sure that everyone – Pakistan or Sri Lanka or Bangladesh or Zimbabwe – can benefit financially? I don’t know the answer to that. But I believe at some point those questions will be asked and maybe multiple points of view will help us find that answer,” Raman added.

While Raman was of the view of just a 10-team IPL, Sanjog Gupta who had an interesting point of view. The executive vice-president of Star TV Network (the broadcasting partner of the IPL between 2018-2022) felt it might eventually grow to a 12-team affair in a 10-year period. That means that the cash-rich Indian T20 league might eventually become a three or a three-and-a-half-month affair in the cricketing calendar. He added that it’s the best time for the IPL to expand.

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There can’t be a better time for the IPL to expand for the good of Indian cricket, for maximising value and for fans. It’s the best time for it. You can’t find more of a tailwind than you do currently. It’s absolutely the right time for the IPL to expand. Over a 10-year period maybe 12 teams, in fact. With 10 teams it should expand by at least two and a half weeks. Two and a half, three weeks is what one would expect it to grow by. With 12 teams potentially a month extra or maybe more than a month – a two-month tournament becomes a three, three and a half-month tournament,” said Gupta, in the book Cricket 2.0: Inside the T20 Revolution, co-authored by Freddie Wilde and Tim Wigmore.