JOHANNESBURG (AFP) — South African cricket personalities have praised the Indian Premier League won by Deccan Chargers here at the weekend.
The five-week championship was moved to South Africa at the last minute because of security concerns as the dates clashed with Indian elections, but was superbly organised and captured the imagination of its new fan base.
Former South Africa Test captain and one-time head of the national cricket board Ali Bacher was full of superlatives for the IPL organisers.
Bacher was particularly impressed with the "substantial, sustainable and excellent" marketing promoting the tournament.
"The IPL has been an unqualified success for a few reasons," Bacher told AFP.
Apart from marketing, Bacher said the organisers? ability to shift the tournament to a foreign country at short notice and put everything together in a few weeks was "quite extraordinary".
He was also satisfied that crime-hit South Africa had again managed to put on a major sporting event without security problems.
"People all around the world can again see that they don?t need to be concerned about coming to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup," Bacher said.
"It will be safe and secure, and credit must once again go to the South African police and the private security sector."
Bacher gave credit to South Africans for supporting the tournament, but was most excited by the number of children who had shown interest, especially from the country?s Indian community.
"I went to four games and a significant percentage of the spectators were Indian," Bacher said. "And most of them were South African, which could be very positive for South African cricket.
"Since unification (of race-based cricket bodies) there have been plenty of Indian administrators, but apart from Hashim Amla, there have been no players representing South Africa.
"There were lots of Indian children at the games, including girls, who are not there at bilateral international matches, so attracting them to these games could be great for the future of South African cricket."
Cricket South Africa chief executive Gerald Majola felt the tournament was "beyond successful" and confirmed they would be prepared to host it again if approached by the IPL and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
"We will do it any time," Majola said. "As long as we?re available to host it again, we?ll do it."
South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, although not involved in the tournament, agreed that it had been a major success.
However, although he thinks South Africa are more than capable of hosting it again, he hopes it returns to its rightful home.
"South Africa showed that we can certainly back them up if needed, but honestly I think it belongs in India," he said.
And while Arthur entirely supports the Twenty20 game played at such a high franchise level, he hopes his Proteas team won?t be bombarded with T20 internationals with the IPL adding to an already packed schedule.
"For me it?s about balance," Arthur said of the shortest format. "I think the international players would almost be better served with more time off, but that?s not going to happen.
"We?ll just have to ensure that the players are managed properly because the IPL is here to stay."
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