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England professionals demand IPL-style T20

David Hopps

May 2, 2012

Comments: 99 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen brings out the switch hit, Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians, IPL, Delhi, April 27, 2012
Kevin Pietersen playing for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. English professionals have told the PCA that a similar tournament should be established by the ECB © AFP
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England's professional cricketers have overwhelmingly rejected the findings of the Morgan Report into the future of the first-class game and have called for the introduction of a high-profile Twenty20 tournament that can bear comparison with IPL.

The survey, conducted by the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), reveals in detail for the first time the strength of opposition to the proposed shake-up.

The players show almost universal support for the retention of the 16-match Championship and calls for T20 to become a highly promoted tournament in the middle of the season - in the manner of the IPL - to maximise the chances of attracting some of the world's best players.

The PCA report concludes that the English game must: "Establish a high quality T20 competition which draws on experience from other T20 events worldwide, and balances the requirement for short-term financial return for the counties with the need to establish a sustainable T20 income stream.

"For that, we need a competition which has the potential to attract the best overseas players and maximises overseas broadcast interest. A significant increase in the prize money at stake is a critical element of that.

"The T20 competition has a crucial role to play, both from a cricketing perspective, and for county finances. From the point of view of the players, the limitations on their ability to play a full part in the IPL because of the overlap with the start of our season ... make it critical that our own T20 competition delivers adequate compensation in terms of excitement and reward.

"The question for T20 is not simply 'how many games can we squeeze in?' particularly given the dangers of putting quantity before quality, but 'how can we make our T20 competition as good as it can be?'

"In designing the optimal competition, we believe ECB must engage with players (including those who have played in the IPL, Champions League, and Big Bash), spectators, sponsors and broadcasters (both at home and overseas) to understand how best to create a successful competition, played in front of large crowds, and attracting a good TV audience."

But the desire for a high-profile T20 tournament comes alongside a desire to protect the integrity of the 16-match two-divisional Championship.

The report concludes: "The County Championship remains the priority, and this is a competition which must have full fixture symmetry and integrity. This is regarded by the players as more important than creating space in the schedule to allow our teams to compete in the Champions League, and this in turn is a higher priority than achieving further reductions in the amount of cricket played in the domestic season.

"We cannot support changes to our premier competition which are made to allow more room in the schedule for the other competitions ... We would further argue that the financial benefits claimed are (a) unproven, and (b) relatively small compared with the cricketing and commercial imperative of sustaining England's position as No. 1 Test playing nation."

As many as 91% of players regarded the Championship, often derided for its low crowds, as the most important tournament, with a similar number (87%) placing the Friends Life t20 as the second-most important competition. CB40 came a distant third, with the PCA calling for a "fundamental review" of how much 40 or 50-over cricket is played by the counties.

The players' views, which preliminary soundings conducted by ESPNcricinfo also suggest are shared by the bulk of spectators, place further pressure on the ECB to accept that the Morgan Report's solutions to the game's ills are not supported either by those who play or watch.

The exhaustive review, conducted by David Morgan, a former ECB chairman, was shelved by the ECB in March as the board decided instead to conduct further research throughout the 2012 season into the future of professional cricket in England.

Growing opposition to Morgan's recommendations, which included a reduction in Championship matches from 16 to 14, a return to 50-over cricket and 14 T20 matches, left the ECB board unable immediately to adopt a report that many senior officials still want to see become reality.

Morgan's proposal to play T20 cricket across much of the summer, on nights preferred by individual counties, was opposed by 77% of players polled who wanted the group stages to be played in a single block.

The PCA research was carried out online and involved 277 registered professionals, with a response rate of approximately 70%.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (May 4, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

@Meety on (May 04 2012, 01:08 AM GMT) Can see where you're coming from but Somerset ran Mumbai (eventual winners) very close last year in the semis and beat another IPL side in the group stages. I thought one of the Aus teams (who Warner plays for) did pretty well too. Also if a team which qualified for CL felt understrength I reckon they would be entitled to add overseas strength for that tournament. The truth is that no team was truly out of their depth in last years CLT20 inc the T&T side which were full of home players and also this was played in India.

Posted by dariuscorny on (May 4, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

@ultimatewarrior i endorse ur thoughts but something shud be done between these obligations.i think ICC shud force boards to limit their t20 leagues to 20-25 days.other boards shud generate more revenues to contribute to the ICC this will pressurise BCCI

Posted by Meety on (May 4, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

@JG2704 - re: "star" players, the only problem with having two, is that it makes it tough to get anywhere in the Champions League as the IPL franchises have more (4?).

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (May 3, 2012, 22:06 GMT)

There may be only 2 options: (1)Allow 3 months window in ICC FTP to organize IPL style T20 in each country at same time (2) Allow T20 in each country 1by1 throughout the year like jan-feb:big bash mar:bpl apr-may:ipl jun-jul:Epl aug-sep: safpl and so on with respective pros and cons...like option 1 will allow any player to play only in 1 or 2 leagues and option 2 will kill slowly other form of cricket and most of the players will become t20 players only leaving a big void in test and one day cricket as well as there will be no viewers in other than t20....

Posted by tusharkardile on (May 3, 2012, 12:57 GMT)

@JG2704 asked "which Pak players would be available for T20 in England" - I believe Amir is already in England, and so are a couple others. If more come for IstyleEPL, Im sure some of them will stay back in England. Also, others bashing IPL and at the same time complaining about IPL's doors being closed for Pakistani players or about mediocre Bangladeshi players warming the bench, don't you smell of double standards?

Posted by JG2704 on (May 3, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

@ExplicitPlatinum on (May 02 2012, 21:39 PM GMT) - I like your views there. I think 2 players is an ideal balance as you still get the star appeal but at the same time fans still feel they have an affinity with the team. I feel that IPL teams have more money that sense - maybe I'm a little annoyed because Somerset's Alf Thomas is out there (and unless he's injured) was not selected in the last PW game and yet Somerset are desperate to have a player of his calibre in their side. Out of interest do you know which Pak players would be available for T20 in England? I think I read that Ajmal was not available and I'm not sure about Afridi (if he'scontracted elsewhere) but what about Hafeez? Just that Somerset have lost Gayle and I like Hafeez

Posted by Tigg on (May 3, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

The pros want it for the money. The fact is that the country just doesn't have the funds to produce the same sort of spectacle. Likewise a franchise system would fall flat because you lose the historical rivalries between counties.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2012, 6:31 GMT)

i dont think premier leagues damage cricket in fact having three format is the main disadvantage of the cricket and t20 is mainly affecting odi not test

Posted by Abaa on (May 3, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

Stark62: Really? The BPL came close to competing with the IPL? With what? Hardly any players even turned up! Funny how you forget about the BBL held in Australia which was definitely a quality tournament but still not as fantastic as the IPL

Posted by ultimatewarrior on (May 3, 2012, 3:44 GMT)

If England Cricket board is unable to provide IPL-style T20 as demanded by England professionals they can atleast change their FTP and allow to earn English players contracts in IPL / Big Bash / BPL because English Players are also very competitive as any other Australian or South African players as we can see in the success of K Pietersen in IPL

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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