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ICC floats window for domestic T20 leagues

Alex Winter

January 31, 2013

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A

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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Series/Tournaments: England Domestic Season
Teams: England

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.

Posted by faizan_feroz on (February 1, 2013, 7:38 GMT)

another blow to test cricket , india is doing its utmost to scrap the format in which it is worse than the other two and sadly some countries are accepting that bait , u will be missed test cricket :/

Posted by Maratha-Mumbaikar on (February 1, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

IPL will rock from now on. Jai HO

Posted by   on (February 1, 2013, 0:22 GMT)

The 20/20 started off as a good thing, improving fielding and improving bowlers' deliveries. There were five matches to start with, which meant that there would be large crowds at the grounds. It didn't mess the county championship up which is happening now. The latest fixtures are diabolical, with no first class cricket during the summer months and 20/20 interrupting championship fixtures which are essential for a successful test match team. Playing 20/20 is not going to make you a test match player, playing county cricket is.

The cost of watching a two and a half hour game is atrocious - with some counties charging £25. At Surrey, we now have county championship and CB40 match membership as well as the former plus 20/20. The problem now is that with all these countries having their own 20/20 they are killing the goose that laid the golden egg and people are fed up with it. The same with European football, where teams are playing twice as many matches against inferior opposition .

Posted by py0alb on (January 31, 2013, 23:54 GMT)

No-one really cares about seeing Chris Gayle and the bunch of retired test players that still live on beyond the grave in the IPL. We just want to go and watch a professional T20 cricket game for a few hours on a Friday night with a few beers. Preferably live, but if not, on telly in the pub. I have to go all the way to London to watch cricket, I ain't gonna do that any other night but Friday.

I love Test Cricket, its the superior format by far. But sitting in the sun watching a T20 game is a great way to spend 3 hours and every non-cricket fan I've taken with me has enjoyed it too. Lets not knock that.

The thing about T20, is that it is the only format that watching county teams is as exciting as watching international teams.

Posted by Prendleton on (January 31, 2013, 23:42 GMT)

A lot of people on here are deriding T20. It is of course a highly skillful form of cricket, requiring great skill of batsmen, bowlers and fielders. The success of spinners is indicative of how skillful the game is; there are tremendous feats of catching and extraordinary shots (The Dilshan scoop, the extraordinary shots by KP) . We love Boycott< Gavaskar and Tavare, but they were hardly the ones to bring in the crowds. I love test cricket; I love the county game; but T20 is great too. The only reasons I don't go more often are other family things to do and the high price of tickets (£15 is too much at the moment).

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (January 31, 2013, 23:00 GMT)

"Attendances at T20 have started to fall and we don't know exactly why that is"

There's a recession on mate, shops are going under, people aren't splashing out, we're all skint and can't afford it. Don't know why attendance is dropping? Go on, take a wild guess!

Posted by   on (January 31, 2013, 23:00 GMT)

England should stop playing T20 altogether, don't field an England T20 team at all and just concentrate on first class and tests. They would then become very strong in tests whilst the other countries argued about IPL windows and spread themselves too thin across 3 formats. If Australa kept losing the ashes, the reason would be clear and they'd have to do likewise in the face of public pressure. At this point international T20 would die, IPL and minor leagues would continue in the short term but be gone in 20 years and the ghastly T20 beast would be slain.

Posted by themightyfenoughtys on (January 31, 2013, 22:11 GMT)

friday night t20 much better than current option of closing the county season proper in the middle of the season !

can't we give a window to the IPL of 9 months long, but played in Antartica.

Posted by LillianThomson on (January 31, 2013, 21:55 GMT)

Maybe attendances and viewing figures are falling because English audiences think that T20 is garbage entertainment for people who don't like cricket?

As we have seen in recent weeks, in India there are limited safe nighttime entertainment options for the young. But in England and Australia there are multiple options, and T20 "sells" out basically when tickets are given away.

I love cricket. I hate watching technically flawed batsmen slogging castrated bowlers on flat pitches with small boundaries and no slip fielders. That's baseball, not cricket.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple on (January 31, 2013, 21:41 GMT)

Good comments on the nonsense of this proposal, except for one demented ramble. I wasnt really up for the season long thing until last year when Somerset couldnt get the players they wanted. Ultimately, big international stars dont decide whether people go to games. Friday night is great, makes it a social event at the end of the week, plus tight competitive games, not one sided ones (with big overseas stars battering young academy graduates), plus local players still have a big draw, which football has nearly lost, but everyone wants to see the ball getting spanked, good pitches is important, the use of spinners is certainly a negative scoring tactic, when 3 or 4 are used on worn pitches it's very dull, I did think about scoring 8 for a 6, or extending the batting crease to allow more free movement down the wicket, which will really spice up the contest between batter and bowler. I can say these things because I love proper cricket and I realise T20 is just a bit of fun. So why not.

Posted by KingAjmal on (January 31, 2013, 21:01 GMT)

Most Cricket fans don't really care about these T20 leagues and are only interested in International games. We are struggling to fill grounds for International matches and hardly anyone comes to watch first class or A matches, Cricket will just damage itself in the long term. Also England have the EPL in Football which is one of the biggest leagues of all sports in the world and they the Cricket think they can make something of a franchise based T20 league of their own but I doubt it will be anywhere near as successful as their football league and become second, third fiddle.

Posted by o-bomb on (January 31, 2013, 20:30 GMT)

In a few years time players will play either long form cricket or T20 cricket. There will be very little cross over. I can't express how disappointed I am. We have created an all consuming beast in T20 and now we cannot tame it.

Posted by TripleCenturian on (January 31, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

The window is only a shorter period of time within the English season which clashes less with any other country season. This is instead of T20 being spread out over too long a period so overseas players are harder to sign up. English counties might play 10, 12 or 14 games but it could last over a month to do so and a more compact window would be viable as an option with only the Sky paymasters perhaps being against it as their televised games would have to clash with other live matches. And I would not worry about England giving up on Test cricket as a priority. The England test team and the domestic counties are two different beast altogether and will overlap as the England test players rarely get to play much domestic t20 anyway. Even if they are available, Flower will rarely release them.

Posted by bigdhonifan on (January 31, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

Just give window to IPL... consider BBL as well. why windows for other leagues?

Posted by GeoffreysMother on (January 31, 2013, 19:41 GMT)

The friday night solution is excellent. People roll up after the working week, have a few beers, meet mates and build beer snakes. It doesn't matter that the cricket is rubbish, or who plays - no one is really watching. We could get in a few retired legends in to liven up the time spent queuing for beer. Michael Holding bowling at Geoff B would get my vote. It wouldn't be the real thing, but like Bill Hickcock in the Wild West Show it would be entertainment (sorry crickentertainment) and pull in the TV audience. Cricket can then continue for the rest of the season. We don't want to be 'in line' with India where the population are forced to spent six weeks watching Bollywood stars in the VIP seats or Australia where (as yet another massive bat mishits a slog for a 'maximum') the crowd spend their time trying to keep a large plastic ball in the air.

Posted by Chacha_ckt on (January 31, 2013, 19:32 GMT)

Good bye TEST cricket...

Posted by gsingh7 on (January 31, 2013, 19:29 GMT)

t20 league in county season?? that will surely answer some fans who harp of ipl's harm to world cricket. ipl never need window as money rules player's inclinations. who wud play in bpl or county league when there is ipl going on simultaneously? only those who r discarded by ipl. that is best decision by icc in recent times.

Posted by Rakerjnam on (January 31, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

Oh dear lord no! I hate t20s! It's killing test cricket! If there was one country that we could have banked on to prioritize test cricket it was England and now they're talking about having a t20 league in the county season? Disgusting.

Posted by AK47_pk on (January 31, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

Too late. Tide has already turned nd players are looking towards subcontinent for t20 competitions plus there is lot more money there. There were days when it was a dream of almost every international player to play county cricket but from past couple of seasons counties are struggling to find overseas players. Future belongs to ipl psl slpl nd bpl.

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (January 31, 2013, 18:53 GMT)

ICC kowtows to possibility of a T20 league window. No doubt at the behest of the BCCI, to favour the IPL. And once the cat's out of the bag, every two bit rinky dinky league will want its own window, unless the ICC be seen as discriminatory, (which let's be honest, they are). But the same ICC can't even implement use of what is now deemed basic, necessary technology, to improve umpiring standards, when everyone and their pet dog is clamouring for it. Implementing DRS helps world cricket. Implementing windows for T20 leagues, won't. ICC regularly criticises nations to improve their governance, maybe it should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Posted by trav29 on (January 31, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

i just dont see how its viable to create windows for domestic t20 tournaments. almost every board already has or soon will have a franchise based tournament , you cant give one a window and not the others , they cant all be played at the same time as all the big names would end up in the IPL as thats where the money is , making the other tournaments struggle without the stars. you would end up with players missing their own domestic tournament if they get paid more elsewhere. thats not even counting when the window/s would be or how long it/they would be and its/their effect on international cricket.

yes there is a problem with the conflict between domestic t20 and international cricket but i am not sure creating a fixed window does anything but fix one problem whilst creating a number of others.

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