ECB positive after Stanford meeting
Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire, met with the ECB at Lord's on Tuesday for meetings which the board described as "very positive and constructive". The parties discussed possible joint ventures which could include an offer from Stanford for an English Premier League and an England Twenty20 match in the Caribbean against an All-stars West Indies XI.
The ECB said in a statement the meeting was conducted in the full knowledge of the West Indies board and that "detailed proposals (relating to Twenty20 strategy) will be submitted to the ECB and will be further discussed during the month of May".
It also indicated that England players could be allowed to play in the Indian Premier League at the ECB's discretion. While reiterating that international commitments would continue to be the priority, there was a suggestion that England contract holders could feature in the Twenty20 event in the future. Dimitri Mascarenhas is the only England representative involved in the IPL due to the tournament's clash with the County Championship.
"I think they will play," Hugh Morris, the director of England Cricket, told BBC Radio. "It is going to be driven by market forces, the players will go and play Twenty20 cricket. It makes a lot of sense to allow them to play based on the fact that we've got the World Twenty20 coming up five weeks later.
"Don't we want our best player practising and competing in the leading domestic tournament at that time?," added Morris. "The communication between the England players and the ECB has increased. There are so many positive from the players' point of view to come out of these Twenty20 tournaments that they can't refuse it.
The ECB's statement reaffirmed the new softened stance. "The England team director will continue to determine which players can be rested or released from their central contracts from time to time on the basis that the Future Tours Programme always takes precedence," the statement said. "The ECB will act in accordance with this policy but has never stated that centrally contracted players are banned from IPL.
"It should be noted that in 2008 and 2009 the Test series in England clash with the scheduled dates of the Indian Premier League, but future schedules of the IPL from 2010 onwards are yet to be released."