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October 13, 2008
Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, has called for the Future Tours Programme (FTP) to be overhauled following concerns that Sri Lanka's tour to England next year could be downgraded.
Sri Lanka Cricket has proposed a US$70m deal with the BCCI, and have ruled that a number of leading players, including Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitharan, would stand down from the England tour to fulfil their IPL contracts - effectively meaning Sri Lanka would send a second XI. David Morgan, the ICC president, has termed the deal "quite unacceptable behaviour", and Morris is concerned it could damage the long-term health of the game.
"The guys who control the purse strings are now showing they have the potential to make or break a Test series in another country," Morris told the Daily Telegraph. "We [England] are on the outside at the moment, and the Indian board have simply decided to devalue this series for their own ends.
"It's not long since the Indians, and everybody else, sat down at an International Cricket Council meeting and promised to protect Test cricket. Now they're threatening other countries' Test contracts."
Sri Lanka's tour is due to run from April 21 to May 30, while the IPL is scheduled for April 10-May 29. Yet, so lucrative are the IPL contracts, that Sri Lanka's high-profile players are unlikely to be persuaded to honour the England tour.
"Next year is the busiest year ever," Morris said. "The players don't want to be turning up for games that aren't the best against the best. This situation needs to be managed very carefully because devalued series are damaging for everybody - players, boards, broadcasters, spectators, you name it. You can start to see Test series being relegated to the second tier of importance and getting blown out of the water by domestic tournaments.
"We've argued for a long time that the IPL need a window in the schedule to prevent this sort of thing happening. The whole Future Tours Programme has to be overhauled."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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