ECB mull on options
LONDON // The England and Wales Cricket Board are expected to resist plans to implement a new Twenty20 tournament into domestic cricket based on the Indian Premier League. The plans, drafted by the MCC secretary Keith Bradshaw and Surrey chairman David Stewart and discussed at length with officials at Hampshire and Lancashire, propose a radical new format to the county structure.
They suggest a new 57-match Twenty20 tournament spanning 25 days, with nine teams based at the main Test and one-day international grounds in this country backed by city investors. Each team would feature a mixture of homegrown and overseas players and initial projections predict a profit of £50million (Dh366m) in the first year, with the potential to generate around £85m a year. It would be run by a new company rather than the ECB and, under the proposals, the new tournament would replace the existing 40-over competition in the county structure.
But the ECB chairman Giles Clarke appeared to distance himself from the proposals and stressed: "There have been a lot of ideas pushed around, most of debatable economic validity. "Quite a lot of it is probably not going to find favour with me; there may be elements of it to take into consideration. "I am firmly in favour of 18 counties playing matches for their home crowds. I don't see why they should be fearful for their county futures."
He said: "The board agreed at their last meeting on an 18-county structure. We're very firm that the 18-county structure taking the game around the country is really important for cricket in England and Wales. "History and tradition is something only a fool breaks asunder. We need to ensure whatever is produced will be economically viable, will provide cricket people want to watch and the right format for our national side in all forms of cricket."
The proposals, which are due to be presented at a Board meeting on Tuesday, set out plans for each consortium to enter a bidding process for players similar to that seen in this year's inaugural IPL. Each squad would have a proposed salary cap of £1.5m and must include 12 homegrown players while there would be an auction for overseas players. All profits and revenue from the tournament would be shared between the ECB, who would distribute it down to the counties and grassroots cricket, and overseas boards, who would provide some of the star players. The plans also include a separate Friday night Twenty20 tournament and a limited-overs competition to be run at the weekends.
It is the first serious attempt to rival the highly-successful IPL, which is planning to have two tournaments a year from 2011, and has made such an impact that in a recent survey, 50 per cent of England players confirmed they would consider retiring early to play in it. Meanwhile, the row over Yorkshire's expulsion from the Twenty20 Cup rumbles on after the county confirmed they would be fighting the decision.
The discipline commission decided that Yorkshire's use of Azeem Rafiq, a former Under 15 captain who does not hold a British passport, in a group match against Nottinghamshire was a sufficient breach of the rules to force their ejection from the competition. The hearing will be held in Taunton on tomorrow. * PA Sport
Published: July 12, 2008 04:00 AM