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ICC floats window for domestic T20 leagues

Alex Winter

January 31, 2013

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Chris Gayle acknowledges the applause after reaching his century, Jamaica v Guyana, Caribbean T20, playoff, St Lucia, January 19, 2013
The schedule for the new English T20 makes attracting the likes of Chris Gayle very difficult © WICB Media
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English cricket could find itself out of step with the world game after the ICC gave the first clues that it was considering creating space in the international calendar for domestic Twenty20 leagues.

At the ICC Board meeting in Dubai the principle was accepted that domestic T20 leagues can add to the game as a whole and that a policy of co-existence should be sought between domestic T20 leagues and international cricket.

A working party chaired by Sundar Raman of the BCCI, and including James Sutherland, David Collier and David White, in charge respectively of Australia, England and New Zealand cricket, concluded that the "growth and sustainability of international cricket" should be achieved by "attaining co-existence between domestic T20 leagues and the international game."

If such a belief is implemented across the cricketing calendar, windows could be created for T20 leagues such as the IPL to avoid clashes with international fixtures.

That could be good news for the ECB if the Indian board was persuaded to move - and potentially shrink - IPL to avoid a clash with England's international season - although it is possible that it would be the English season that would be expected to shrink with the possibility of compensation as a result.

More striking is that fact that the ECB have proposed a new Twenty20 competition that will not be able to easily slot into a world cricket calendar. From 2014, the tournament will consist of 14 group matches in a consistent schedule, most on Friday nights, throughout the season.

Support for a summer-long league was championed by counties such as Somerset and Essex, much to the frustration of some of the Test match counties, many of whom favoured a short-and-sharp format which would have potentially attracted T20 specialists and - if the ECB was persuaded of the advantages of a domestic window - England players.

The ECB is conducting its own analysis of its domestic T20 tournament. A working party under the chairmanship of Essex's Nigel Hilliard has been charged with examining how to freshen up domestic Twenty20, but attracting leading overseas players will be difficult because of the summer-long structure.

"You always want the best players in your domestic tournaments for the simple reason that it raises the standard," Giles White, Hampshire first XI manager, told ESPNcricinfo. "Young players that are coming through can test their skills against the very best which can only be a good thing. We've been lucky in the past with some very good overseas players, for example Shahid Afridi who was very instrumental in the development of Danny Briggs."

Without the lure of overseas stars, the ECB working committee, says Hillard, will "think outside the box" to make the game more interesting to spectators, considering changes to the playing conditions for the new tournament.

"It is an opportunity to make changes in 2014 when we relaunch the whole thing," Hilliard told the Telegraph. "Nothing is off the agenda. We just want to think about how we can improve the competition and see what ideas are out there."

Changes could see restrictions lifted on the number of overs permitted for each bowler and bonus points to promote good pitches, an idea that is favoured by Leicestershire's chief executive Mike Siddall.

"We need to be playing on pitching where sides are capable of scoring 180 rather than 130," Siddall said. "You want hard, flat wickets where the batsman is in the ascendency - that's what the crowd wants. You can have all the background entertainment but the thing that matters is the onfield entertainment - that's what draws the crowds.

"Attendances at T20 have started to fall and we don't know exactly why that is. There is a feeling that Twenty20 isn't hitting the sweet spot as it was in the early days."

Siddall said the notion of franchise cricket had probably run its course. "We've looked at the franchise idea and there was a big feeling a few years ago that it might happen but now that it hasn't happened by now probably almost means that it won't happen. Unless you can attract the top players to play in this country, the franchise arrangement won't work."

The ECB appears to be ploughing a lone furrow with their season-long model for T20 but, having created Twenty20 cricket in 2003, 2014 could be the time for further progress.

"We need to learn what others are doing, in cricket and in other sports and take that to another level," said Jamie Clifford, Kent's chief executive. "We've now got quite a lot of test beds in terms of what can work both inside the ground and what it looks like on the TV.

"Watching IPL, Big Bash, the game is presented well. More mic'd-up players, more interaction, a player's eye view, boundary interviews and that sort of thing to draw the viewer in to what's going on, so it's not just bat versus ball there's some context to it and a greater level of engagement.

"With our audience it's a longer summer and it can sustain a competition throughout the course of the season and gives us counties better opportunity to market each match as an occasion. And if we can't get the top overseas players we have a responsibility to do all we can to make sure the customer is engaged."

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by alarky on (February 3, 2013, 2:31 GMT)

Cricinfo, how come the headline regarding the latest India decision on the standardisation of the DRS technology for every country playing cricket has been so short lived on your website? I wanted a debate on how come BCCI President, Mr Srinivasan could have been so bold and sure in a public statement to the world that the DRS technology "can be manipulated"! I need the ICC to also answer why India can make such bold claims and soley defy the rest of the cricketing world to use the best technology available to help to make critical decisions in the game. We all need to remember that cricket is a sport that on which professionals depend for their living. I am still wondering why umpires are not properly punished for their silly errors while the players are always being punished.

Posted by Haleos on (February 1, 2013, 22:56 GMT)

Surprising someone from englanf feels a good pitch is one which is flat.

Posted by SyedAreYouDumb on (February 1, 2013, 20:26 GMT)

Just because India are rubbish at test cricket, BCCI are trying their best to remove that format from mankind. Anyways England finally came to their senses and only IPL, BBL, EPL (not footie premier league) will survive. BPL will die after 2014 because of payment issues :( and the other leagues will too!

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 1, 2013, 19:19 GMT)

@trav29, totally agree with your comments. All 10 full ICC members have their own domestic leagues if a 3 wk window was afforded to each along with the CLT20 & the IPL stayed as it was that would leave each country about enough time to play a 3 match test series & a handful of ODI's each yr & in WC yrs test cricket wouldn't get played at all! This seems like a pretty ludicrous idea. I think the IPL is probably the only league at this time which warrants having its own window due to the amount of top overseas stars invo, problem is thalvedt it overlaps with Eng's international summer & without some sort of compromise from both the ECB & BCCI it can't happen.

Posted by saifur.raffael on (February 1, 2013, 16:08 GMT)

In other words less test cricket matches on a series. ICC should never do this just because BCCI wants it...this is ridiculous...

Posted by YS_USA on (February 1, 2013, 13:51 GMT)

Let them play T20 matches every night and test cricket and OIDs can be played during the day. Obviously, star players will be playing T20, but there will be enough players to play all other games.

Posted by CliffM on (February 1, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

When will administrators learn that the key to interesting spectators is a having a contest between bat and ball? A slogathon may interest people for a short period but soon the lack of variety will bore everyone. If they really believe that high scoring is the answer to T20's problems they should play it on concrete and use bowling machines so that bowlers can't ruin the spectacle. Never mind good pitches - empower bowlers so that there is a contest going on all the time.

People are losing interest in T20 because it is predictable; there is no light and shade. It has taken ten years. ODIs lasted about 30 before the same thing happened. Test cricket has been going for almost 140 years without its format being constantly tweaked because it is so multi-dimensional and unpredictable.

Posted by Munkeymomo on (February 1, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

A season long tournament is much better than the three-four window events currently on offer. I watch some of the IPL but only the start, a few games here and there, after a week it's too much and gets boring, with games spread out and not on every day. There is so much wrong with football but one thing about it which is right is the scheduling, one game per week. These windowed events can keep going, I'll just stick to tests and watching the county championship/FLT20 (which now has the best format of all the international leagues) thanks.

Posted by eggyroe on (February 1, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Test Match Cricket should be the ultimate goal for any aspiring cricketer,and should be preserved at all costs.If certain Test Match playing countries deem T20 to be the way ahead then let them get on with it,and leave test cricket playing teams to carry on without them and not having to worry about T20. In England the problem is that because of the ICC Future Games Programme which have to be played,the touring teams which have to play the early season test matches arrive minus their IPL players.These players normally arrive in the country about 2-3 days before the 1st Test Match,and that surely is not enough preparation going from a T20 to a full blown Test Match.

The remaining Test Playing sides can then revert to the old system of a 5 match series to determine the best side and do away with these 2 or 3 match series that can only be fitted in because of the various T20 leagues around the world.A final point Test Match Cricket survived for128 years without T20,It must survive.

Posted by CricketMaan on (February 1, 2013, 9:09 GMT)

So those that are just calmouring IPL, how do you think the likes of SLPL, BPL, BigBash and PSL will survive if international players dont take part? All these T20 mushrooms also need thier International players to take part to make it a success and money spinner. So its not just IPL but others too. The only difference is that a lot of Test players are and continue to play IPL while those on fringes and those that dont get picked at IPL continue to play other leagues. That is the difference.

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