The English Cricket Revolution

Posted on: 18 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

English county cricket is to be given a major overhaul with the news that a new Twenty20 English Premier League will start in 2010.

The EPL will have two divisions of 10 teams featuring the 18 existing counties plus two overseas teams. It is also expected to feature promotion and relegation and a finals weekend, which could generate £60m a year for the game.

The new plan safeguards all the current counties after a radical proposal by David Stewart and Keith Bradshaw, which would have left out half of the counties, was rejected by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The Pro40 competition will be scrapped after 2009, allowing for a total revamp of club cricket in England. The board also agreed the 2010 season would include a 50-over competition and 16 County Championship matches in a two-division structure.

The introduction of the EPL follows the successful debut of the Indian Premier League, which has stimulated huge interest and offers the ECB the potential of attracting more television revenue.

The lucrative IPL and its unsanctioned and controversial rival, the Indian Cricket League (ICL), has seen Twenty20 cricket dominate the cricket headlines in recent months.

In order not to be left behind, England agreed a five-year deal worth £50m with businessman Sir Allen Stanford where they will play a winner-takes-all Twenty20 match each year in the Caribbean.

And in June the ECB along with the Indian, Australian and South African governing bodies also unveiled plans for a Twenty20 Champions League tournament.

Market research suggests that people want more Twenty20 cricket in July and August, and now they will be able to watch it throughout the summer as not merely one, but two competitions – including the EPL – run side by side.

So from one extreme to another.

Are the administrators just hell bent on squeezing as much money out of this shortened form of the game as possible?

The new competition raises more questions than answers at the moment.

The 18 counties have survived the cull as broadcasters in this country and in Asia are interested in county sides and not so interested in the IPL’s made up sides, so there’s one box ticked.

But apart from the fact it will include two overseas teams – yet to be announced – what will the difference be between the EPL and the domestic competition?

At the moment we’re still waiting to find out what might make it stand out, or make it special or different from the already successful Twenty20 tournament in England.

Another unanswered question regards overseas players. Is it possible, as a result of an IPL-style auction that an overseas player can appear for two different counties in the two competitions? Will there even be an auction?

Everything seems to be a little hurried, leaving many questions left unanswered.

The EPL will be staged in June, while there will be a Twenty20 League, replacing the Pro40, in July, August and September with games to be staged primarily on Friday nights.

This week’s developments mean English cricketers, for so long the poor relations of Premier League footballers, will start to reap the rewards of playing the more exciting, spectator-friendly style of the game.

Will the EPL be successful? Can it overtake the IPL? Are you struggling to understand the latest overhaul to English cricket?

Let us know by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts in the 50connect forums.


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