Window could be found for IPL - Speed
In what appears to be a softening of an earlier stance, Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive, says that an annual window in cricket's increasingly over-packed calendar could be found for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
A meeting of the ICC chief executives' committee had recently decided that the Future Tours Programme (FTP) was in place till 2012 and that "no window would be considered or created [for the IPL] prior to that."
But Speed admitted that if seven ICC members supported it, and could work it into the schedule, a window could then be freed up for the tournament. He warned, however, that negotiating it would not be easy and the international calendar would have to be cleared from early April to mid-May, when the tournament is on.
"Countries could agree to move their tours," Speed was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. "This would be permitted by ICC if it can be achieved without having a flow-on effect for any other tour or ICC event. For the members to agree that there is to be a permanent window in the international schedule, for the IPL, which is a domestic competition, seven full members would need to vote in favour of it."
A number of considerations are likely to play a part in any decision. England, for example, has no representation in the tournament because it clashes with the start of the county season. Top Australian players, among the most sought-after at the auction, might not be able to take part this year due to international commitments.
"Member countries have contractual commitments to sponsors and broadcasters that are in place for several years. The length of these commitments varies from country to country," Speed said.
"March, April and May are the prime international season for West Indies. The English domestic season starts in April and the international season starts in May. The ICC World Twenty20 Cup is to be played in June 2009 in England. In April 2010, the ICC Champions Trophy is to be played in West Indies."
Speed also reiterated the importance of the international game, pointing out that the IPL was essentially a domestic tournament, with no financial benefits for member boards other than the BCCI. This, he warned, might become an obstacle in moving scheduled games on the FTP.
"International cricket is the lifeblood of the ICC members. Apart from India, they do not receive any financial reward from the IPL," Speed said. "It is a paramount consideration for them that they maintain their international schedules and play at the times that suit them best.
"International cricketers have been coached and developed by their home countries, states, provinces, counties and clubs. They are in demand by IPL teams because they are international cricketers. Their primary duty is to their country.
Speed was also cautious about the effects of the IPL on the world game. "There are several possible benefits that may emerge from IPL. I have been critical in the past of BCCI's failure to exploit the commercial power of India's remarkable passion for the game. Time will tell whether the IPL has a positive or negative effect on the game."