British Cricket Faces Overhaul

Posted on: 30 May 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

The ECB backtracks and is now discussing the future of domestic cricket in Britain with a focus on Twenty20.

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are meeting to discuss proposals that could radically change the face of the domestic game.

With the Indian Premier League (IPL) proving a huge success across the otherside of the world, the ECB are keen to explore an option to rival the lucrative IPL.

Emphasis is likely to be placed on the short Twenty20 form of cricket as the sport enters a new modern format.

But any changes that are agreed will not come into effect before 2010 because of current agreements with broadcasters and sponsors.

It’s understood that the Pro40 competition could be revamped or even scrapped as the structure of the County Championship will also be examined.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke faces a difficult balancing act but is adamant that any venture into a rival competition with the IPL will not follow India’s lead of city and regional-based franchises.

Clarke will instead look to accommodate all the 18 first-class counties in an English Premier League which will enable the ECB to compete with the funds being generated in India.

The ECB are currently exploring the schedule for the next few years to see if time can be found to accommodate such a league.

The current format for cricket in Britain has been widely criticised as being too old fashioned since Indian cricket authorities unveiled the IPL model.

Hampshire’s Dimitri Mascheranas was the only Englishman to be signed up for the superstar-studded tournament as the ECB blocked centrally-contracted players from taking part.

Several other players have stated their ambition to one day enjoy a share of the riches on offer and seem to be led by England ace Kevin Peitersen.

The current IPL season clashed with the start of the domestic campaign in this country and the Test series with New Zealand.

Next year’s England tour to the West Indies will finish a month earlier, possibly allowing England’s players to play in India, but room in the domestic schedule would also need to be found.

Peitersen’s agent Adam Wheatley has already confirmed that the 27-year-old batsman is likely to take advantage of the short window in the 2009 international season to play IPL.

But ahead of a summer which includes both the Ashes and the ICC World Twenty20, the ECB has said it would prefer centrally-contracted players to use the period for rest.

But Wheatley expects players to ask instead to play in the IPL, which is scheduled to run next year from 10th April – 29th May.

“Ultimately it will be up to Peter Moores (England coach), but I think the ECB wants to appease the players,” said Wheatley.

“There is at least a window now, albeit a short one, so I think Kevin will be able to play in the IPL.”

It’s now widely accepted within the ECB that something in the current set-up will have to give; a remarkable turnaround in events after ECB chief’s backed the present set-up only a matter of months ago.

Despite supporters interest the relatively lucrative 40-over tournament is likely to suffer as it has no place in the current international calendar.

A plan to revamp the Pro 40 competition into a Twenty20 format will also be discussed.

Controversy still lingers over proposals for a three-conference County Championship, instead of the current two-division structure whilst ideas are still strong about returning to three-day championship fixtures.

The ECB want to preserve the games’ traditions whilst also moving into a more modern domestic game. They have already committed to a quadrangular Twenty20 tournament that will be bankrolled by Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

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