Indian Premier League April 8, 2008

Greig backs Clarke's stance on IPL

Cricinfo staff

Tony Greig: 'WSC provided me with the security the Clarkes of the day weren't prepared to offer' © Getty Images
The former England captain, Tony Greig, believes that the England & Wales Cricket Board is right to resist calls for its contracted players to be allowed to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League, but has rubbished suggestions from the board's chairman, Giles Clarke, that there are parallels between the current situation and World Series Cricket.

Greig was one of the prime movers in Kerry Packer's revolution, which changed the face of cricket forever in the late 1970s, and he never played again for England after taking part in the first competition in 1977-78. On Monday, Clarke warned England's current stars, not least Kevin Pietersen, that a spell in the IPL could have a similar effect on their careers.

Clarke told reporters at Lord's: "Thirty years ago, Tony Greig thought it was important to play in World Series Cricket, and Ian Botham appeared to replace him from pretty much nowhere." Greig, who played alongside Botham in two Tests of the 1977 summer, as well as the previous year's one-day series against West Indies, described that version of events as "hogwash".

"I picked Ian Botham to play for England when I was captain and he was always going to replace me as England's allrounder," Greig told Cricinfo. "My joining WSC simply gave Ian a permanent position a little sooner than may otherwise have been the case.

"Clarke's attempt to draw a comparison with World Series Cricket is absolutely ridiculous," added Greig. "We, the England players of the day, were being seriously ripped off by Clarke's ECB predecessors who didn't give a damn about the plight of the then-county and Test cricketers, especially where their remuneration was concerned.

"Thanks to WSC they were forced to change their attitude," he continued. "It provided me with the security the Clarkes of the day weren't prepared to offer. All they gave us was a threat that, if we didn't stay on, we wouldn't receive our tax-free benefits. The situation now is very different because players are being well-paid and also have the security of the contract system that the Players Association worked so hard to implement."

Broadly speaking, however, Greig agreed with the ECB's attitude towards the IPL, not least because he believes that England is in a much stronger position to build a sustainable Twenty20 competition. "Clarke is on the right track," he said. "All he and his board has to do now is form the England Twenty20 Cricket League and play it sometime during the English summer when all the players from around the world will be available.

"Unlike India, England is the perfect venue for an annual Twenty20 festival because, with very few exceptions, teams are out of season or touring England.

"The Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans should consider doing the same in the Southern Hemisphere during their summer," said Greig, "although their tournament will have to be along the lines of the Super 14 rugby tournament because the players from Asia and the Northern Hemisphere will be otherwise occupied."