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Page last updated at 20:06 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

IPL confirms South Africa switch

Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola and IPL commissioner Lalit Modi

IPL prefers South African weather - Modi

The 2009 Indian Premier League will now take place in South Africa.

Security concerns in India forced organisers to seek an alternative host, with England a possible destination.

But IPL boss Lalit Modi opted for South Africa following talks with Cricket South Africa (CSA), ultimately because of the favourable weather conditions.

The tournament, which will feature 59 matches across six venues, will start a week later than planned, running from 18 April to 24 May.

The opening match will be played in Cape Town, while Johannesburg will stage the final, with Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London also venues for matches.

"We are very happy to confirm that South Africa will host the 2009 Indian Premier League tournament," said Modi.

If the choice is between no tournament and a tournament in another country, then we clearly prefer the latter

Ranjit Borthakur, vice chairman of the Rajasthan Royals

"The South African public loves Twenty20 cricket and CSA successfully hosted the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. Both these factors weighed heavily in South Africa's favour."

CSA chief executive Gerald Majola expressed his delight, saying: "This is a great compliment to both CSA and our nation to be shown this confidence in our ability to hold one of the world's top sporting events at short notice.

"This event will strengthen the ties even further between South African and Indian cricket, as well as binding our nations even closer together.

"We are looking forward to hosting some of the world's best cricketers, and we can assure them they will be provided with the very best facilities to show their skills. We will do the IPL proud."

The unpredictable April weather was one of the reasons the IPL decided not to pursue its interest in moving the tournament to England.

"To be honest I'm not desperately surprised," England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We all know what the weather's like in April in England. When I got my first telephone call (from the IPL) I said I can't give you any guarantees about the British weather - nobody can."

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose reflects on South Africa hosting the IPL

But despite missing out on the potential financial benefits that hosting the tournament could have brought to the English game, Clarke said he was pleased for the sport as a whole that the IPL had found a new home in South Africa.

"It's very important this tournament is played," he added. "The IPL is understandably in a hurry to get things organised. I'm just very pleased it's going to be played."

The decision is a major coup for South Africa, who will enjoy the financial benefits of hosting such a high-profile tournament as well as underline their readiness to host the football World Cup in 2010.

The tournament will feature the biggest and best names in the sport, including England's Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Paul Collingwood.

"I'm a bit sad it's not in India," Fintoff told BBC Radio 5 Live. "Playing cricket out there in front of those crowds in that environment is special but I'm sure South Africa will do a great job."

Moving the tournament back by a week will have an impact on England's players as they need to return to prepare for the first Test against the West Indies, but IPL organisers will attempt to accommodate the ECB.

The overriding reason that we opted for South Africa was because of the weather conditions

Lalit Modi

"It does affect our plans as far as the number of days that the ECB players will be able to participate," said Modi. "We're trying to see how best to schedule those matches and get them to play more and more matches."

Pietersen and Flintoff had both spoken publicly about their concerns over security in India, especially in light of the terrorist attacks in Lahore when Sri Lanka cricketers were the targets of fundamentalists.

Since then, Modi said he had no choice but to move the event because India's government could not guarantee safety and security resources, with national elections happening at the same time.

South Africa are also due to host elections during the tournament - on 22 April - but appear to have provided Modi with sufficient assurances over security.

England were thought to be the early favourites to stage the tournament in place of India, but it appears that the country's inclement weather has ultimately cost them.

"I would like to put on record my sincerest thanks to the England and Wales Cricket Board for their help and support," Modi told a news conference.

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"We were in negotiations but the overriding reason that we opted for South Africa was because of the weather conditions, which are a lot more favourable there than in England."

Ranjit Borthakur, the vice-chairman of the Rajasthan Royals, said: "We are disappointed the tournament is not being held in India, but if the choice is between no tournament and a tournament in another country, then we clearly prefer the latter.

"The atmosphere and the buzz the matches create in India cannot be replicated.

"Having said that, now that the tournament is in South Africa, we are happy that the tournament is happening and going forward."

There are other factors that render South Africa a more attractive option, including television timings - South Africa is closer to India in terms of time zones - while the cost of holding the tournament is reportedly cheaper in the African nation.

The TV rights issue in South Africa is also more straightforward, with Supersport holding the rights to the IPL as well as international cricket in the country.

That is not the case in England, where Sky hold the broadcast rights to all cricket played in England - but rival Setanta bought the UK rights to the IPL last year and showed the inaugural tournament.

BBC sports editor Mihir Bose also believes the South Africa government played its part, saying: "South Africa have clearly provided the Indians with the sort of guarantees they were after.

"The weather was a factor, but I also understand from talking to various people that the South African government came in in a very strong way. With a lot of spectators expected to move around, issues like visas are also crucial and all of that has played a part."



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Sad day for Indian cricket
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IPL will go ahead, declares Modi
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Pietersen keen to learn from IPL
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England duo set for IPL showdown
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Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
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