According to reports, the Saudi Arabian government is currently in talks with the management of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to bring about significant changes to the shorter format of cricket. Saudi Arabia is said to be dissatisfied with its past sports investments, such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix and LIV Golf, and is now seeking to establish the world’s wealthiest T20 tournament.
At present, Indian players are not permitted to participate in overseas T20 leagues under the regulations set by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). However, Saudi Arabia’s proposal may potentially allow for some flexibility in these rules.
Greg Barclay, Chairman of the International Cricket Council, has confirmed that KSA has expressed interest in franchise cricket, stating that “Given their advance into sport more generally, cricket would work quite well for Saudi Arabia. They’re pretty keen to invest in sport, and given their regional presence, cricket would seem a pretty obvious one to pursue.”
If Saudi Arabia negotiates well and invests wisely, it is possible that the planned cricket matches could strengthen the relationship between India and Saudi Arabia. The country is aiming to become India’s top tourist destination by 2030 and hopes to establish itself as a global cricketing destination. Although the United Arab Emirates is currently the preferred location for matches, Saudi Arabia is working towards becoming a viable alternative.
Former Pakistani cricket player, Wasim Akram, recently visited Riyadh and met with the Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Cricket Federation to discuss the future of cricket in Saudi Arabia. Akram expressed his interest in establishing a cricket league in the country, saying “What a trip to Riyadh. Had a great meeting with H.H. Saud (bin) Mishal, talked about cricket in Saudi Arabia, and so looking forward to (starting) a Saudi league insha Allah very soon.”