ICC set to confirm Champions Trophy dates
The ICC has identified a "potential window" for the Champions Trophy, which will now be held in September-October next year, and will formalise it at its board meeting over the next two days. The dates, Cricinfo has learnt, were identified after senior officials of various national boards agreed over the last month to adjust individual fixtures to accommodate the tournament.
The ICC board members will also discuss the umpire decision review system and possibly sanction more trials this season, have another look at formulating a more practical international calendar from 2012, and hear David Morgan, the ICC president, report on a meeting he had last week in London with Subhash Chandra, who owns the Zee Group and the ICL. The league had presented its case to be recognised under ICC rules as authorised unofficial cricket.
The other issue that might be discussed with considerable interest among the members does not feature on the official agenda: the possible financial tie-up between the BCCI's IPL and the Sri Lankan cricket board. With senior IPL officials refusing to comment on the deal and dismissing news reports as speculation, the issue is likely to be discussed "more outside the meetings, than inside."
The Champions Trophy, though, is more or less a certainty after it was postponed in August following security concerns expressed by certain teams over Pakistan, the host country - as of now. Pakistan remains the host for the 2009 version, too, but pending a security review early next year.
It's understood that all the major national boards have agreed to adjust their dates for the event, including India, which will now have to tweak the dates of the Champions T20 League - scheduled to start on September 25 - and the one-day series against Australia, tentatively slotted from October 13.
The breakthrough follows a series of separate discussions over the last month involving Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, IS Bindra, the ICC's principal advisor who oversees ties between member nations, and senior officials of national boards. The task, sources said, was to reconcile the interests of the various national boards and arrive at a common ground.
The buzz in Dubai is expected to centre on the reported US$70 million "bailout" arrangement between the BCCI's IPL and Sri Lanka Cricket. The deal would mean that Sri Lankan players will participate in the IPL and Champions League, but will result in a cancellation of the country's two-Test series in England next year, which clashes with the IPL.
Morgan has already criticised the possible arrangement as "unacceptable behaviour" because it undermines the stature of Test cricket. And the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) privately endorses that view, though it officially maintains that the Sri Lanka Test visit of 2009 "is still on as there has been no official word from the Sri Lankans to suggest otherwise."
The Indian side, meanwhile, argues that the Sri Lankan tour was hastily arranged in July by Arjuna Ranatunga, who heads the interim committee that runs SLC, and violates an NOC granted in March by the same board to its players to participate in the IPL. "Considering that Morgan has come out with his views on the issue, it would be surprising if this matter was not discussed at all, either inside or outside," the sources said.
What would be of particular interest are the views of Ranatunga who will represent Sri Lanka in Dubai - he has publicly spoken out before against the IPL - and does not support this deal which is reportedly being negotiated by his country's sports minister and Indian officials.
The board is also expected to cover some ground on reaching a consensus for an international schedule that protects "icon" Test series, tries to streamline the various one-day tournaments, and identifies suitable slots for the mushrooming growth of Twenty20 cricket.
Besides, its members are likely to recommend that the umpire decision review system, which was trialled in Sri Lanka for the India series in August, be tried out in four series before the next meeting of the ICC's Cricket Committee, due to take place in April/May next year.
If the ICC decides to go ahead with the trials, the major series where they could take place include Australia's home-and-away series against South Africa and India's series against England and tours of Pakistan and New Zealand.
Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo