IPL 2024’s early kickoff likely to force Ranji Trophy matches out of franchise venues

The much-awaited Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 is gearing up for an early start, with the looming general elections in the April-May window influencing the schedule. While nothing is confirmed yet, the discussion among cricket enthusiasts suggests that the IPL action might kick off sooner than expected.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has reportedly instructed the ten potential venues for the 2024 IPL to be ready for action from the first week of March. This early readiness is not only to accommodate the IPL but also to provide players with some breathing space before they dive into preparations for the 2024 T20 World Cup alongside their national teams.

“Usually, once the domestic season is over, the centres concerned get around three weeks or so to freshen up and be prepared for the IPL.This time, because of the parliamentary elections, the IPL is set to begin a little bit earlier,” a state official shared insights to The Telegraph on Monday.

The official further emphasized that the BCCI has directed these venues not to host any Ranji, club, or local matches from February onwards.

“So, the BCCI, very recently, has instructed all the IPL centres to not host any Ranji, club or any other local matches from February onwards.The ground has to be kept ready so that the franchises can begin with their preparations from the first week of March itself,” the official added.

The 2024 Ranji Trophy season, scheduled from January 4 to March 14, poses a challenge for state teams, compelling them to explore alternate venues for their matches as their home grounds will be utilized for IPL preparations.

According to a report by ESPNcricinfo, the 2024 IPL season, tentatively slated from March 22 to the end of May, precedes the T20 World Cup scheduled to commence on June 3. The finalization of the IPL schedule depends on the announcement of the General Election dates by the Election Commission.

After the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the IPL returned to its home-and-away format in the 2023 season. The upcoming season promises more cricketing action, bringing back the normalcy of multiple venues hosting matches, marking a return to the beloved home-and-away format.