Cricket could go into bat at Hub

Cricket could go into bat at Hub

Indian Premier League looks at hosting matches at venue, Asia Cup may follow.

A tournament featuring three Indian Premier League (IPL) teams at the new National Stadium is on the cards.

Following a meeting between IPL top executive Sundar Raman, chief operating officer (COO) of the most-watched Twenty20 cricket league in the world, and Singapore Sports Hub (SSH) COO Oon Jin Teik yesterday, which was initiated by senior officials of the Singapore Cricket Association (SCA), it could even be staged later this year.

After a tour of the National Stadium and its facilities, a suitably-impressed Raman, 41, who has been at the helm of the US$3.2 billion (S$4 billion) IPL since 2008, suggested that the venue was ideal to stage international cricket matches.

That could begin with one involving IPL teams, who feature top players from the major cricketing nations.

Although a rugby 10s tournament and football friendly between a Singapore selection side and Juventus drew poor crowds at the venue, he is confident that the event will be a financial success.

The IPL was held in the United Arab Emirates for the first time this year and drew major sponsors and big crowds, especially wealthy Indians who made the four-hour trip to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah to watch the high-octane matches.

Sundar has given the SSH time to come up with a five-year plan for international cricket matches to be staged at the National Stadium.

He has also confirmed the support of the Indian board (BCCI), which virtually rules the sport and organises the highly-successful IPL.

"The talks are still at the preliminary stage but Sundar's offer is a big boost for cricket in Singapore," said Imran Hamid, president of the SCA who was present at yesterday's meeting.

"The chances of hosting major international teams are now high and Singapore could become a cricketing venue of note."

The 55,000-seater National Stadium's semi-artificial surface is suitable to host international cricket matches and it can be configured for a drop-in pitch.

The lighting is also ideal for the game to be played at night.

Buoyed by the support from Sundar, an influential member of the BCCI, the SCA is toying with the idea of making bids for the 2016 Asia Cup, which will involve the four Test playing nations from the continent in a collaboration with the Malaysian Cricket Association, and the International Cricket Council's annual conference next year.

santosh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Aug 24, 2014.
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