Former India captain Rahul Dravid strongly believes that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is "ready for expansion" in terms of number of teams without compromising on the quality as well as quantity of talent available in the country.
There are talks that the 2021 IPL will be featuring nine teams instead of eight and will go up to 10 teams by 2023, which has always been the BCCI's long-term plan.
The views of Dravid, who is now the director of National Cricket Academy (NCA), were echoed by Rajasthan Royals co-owner Manoj Badale, who felt that a nine-team IPL in 2021 is "definitely possible".
"I feel IPL is ready for expansion in terms of talent, if you look from talent perspective. There are a lot of talented players who are not getting an opportunity to play."
Dravid said that if there are more teams, all the talented players could be fitted in and there won't be a drop in quality.
"So I believe we are ready as there are lot of new names and faces in terms of talent perspective," Dravid said during the virtual launch of Badale's book 'A New Innings', which he co-authored with former English cricketer Simon Hughes.
Badale, as a stakeholder in the IPL, welcomed the idea of expansion and also spoke about various aspects that need to be factored in.
"BCCI needs to take a decision and they will take a call on what would be the exact approach.
"Making a nine-team league in 2021 is definitely possible but as a consequence, you will have to have more afternoon games and maintain quality of the competition," said Badale, a British citizen of Indian origin.
Dravid, on his part, explained why Mumbai Indians have been such a prolific team having won an unprecedented five IPL titles in 13 editions.
"They (MI) have a strong core with a high quality. Their core is built with world-class T20 players and balanced it with young exciting talent. They have a very strong scouting structure in place," Dravid said.
He said it is because of IPL that someone like Rahul Tewatia from Haryana has been able to showcase his skills to a global audience.
"Earlier, you only depended on your state association to select you for Ranji Trophy. Now, from a state like Haryana which produces so many quality spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav, Tewatia would have had limited opportunities.
"So it's no longer limited to state associations," said Dravid.
He spoke about the heady feeling of playing international cricket without actually playing one, which the IPL provides.
"As coaches, we can help the young players in their journeys but what helps them grow is experience. Look at a Devdutt Padikkal who is batting alongside Virat Kohli or can learn from AB de Villiers."
Another aspect in which the IPL has helped young players is the availability of worthwhile data to improve their game.
"Look at someone like T Natarajan. It was because of the quality of data that he was able to go back and work on his yorker and that one skill has now got him into the Indian team," he said.
The last decade (2011-2020), according to Dravid, has been India's best in terms of white-ball cricket and the IPL has contributed with its appropriate tagline 'talent meets opportunity'.
"It has been India's best performing decade in white-ball cricket. We won a World Cup (2011), Champions Trophy (2013) and reached semi-finals and finals of World T20. Young players have learnt a lot watching and listening to experts on TV," he said.
T20 can become an Olympic sport
"I think it will be great if the T20 format of the game can become an Olympic sport. Obviously, it will come with its challenges. Also, cricket is a game that requires a certain kind of facility for it to be successful," Dravid said during a virtual seminar.
"We have seen in the just-concluded IPL, the success of IPL was on large part due to the quality of wickets... if you can get all of that right and get the facilities in place then why not. I am certainly for the expansion of the T20 game. If it is possible, cricket should endeavor to try and get into the Olympics," he added.