MCC plans for the future May 7, 2008

Lord's could host neutral Tests and Twenty20 Champions League

Cricinfo staff


MCC secretary and chief executive Keith Bradshaw, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and MCC head of cricket John Stephenson announce the signing of the MCC Spirit of Cricket declaration last month © IPL
 
Lord's could stage neutral Test matches and matches in the proposed Twenty20 Champions League to assist the MCC in fund raising as it plans to spend up to £200 million to redevelop the ground ahead of its bicentenary in 2014.

A report it the Guardian today says that a number of proposals are being considered by Keith Bradshaw, the MCC's secretary and chief executive, after a whistlestop visit to India over the weekend.

Bradshaw met with Lalit Modi, the IPL's commissioner, in Mohali and the possibility of bringing the Twenty20 Champions League to London was discussed. The main stumbling block appears to be the timing as the event can only be played after the ICC Champions Trophy which finishes in late September. "The MCC was positive about the idea and are eager to proceed, subject to ECB clearance," an IPL official told Cricinfo.

The Guardian also claimed that the possibility of Pakistan playing Australia at Lord's had been raised earlier in the year after the Australians' tour of Pakistan had been scrapped on security grounds.

"It is our heartbeat to have major matches, so as well as our England Tests and ODIs we have to look at whether there is the potential to stage other sorts of cricket here such as neutral Test matches," Bradshaw, who could face some tough questions at the MCC's annual meeting later today, told the newspaper. "We would be very open to staging neutral Tests and, in terms of embracing what's been mooted in terms of IPL, the Champions League or the English Premier League, why not? We have a very open mind."

While the ECB, who would need to be consulted before any other matches could be staged at Lord's, might not object to the Twenty20 Champions League being held in London, it would probably take a dimmer view of neutral Tests for fear of the impact they might have on the traditional summer fixtures.

However, Lord's is under threat as a venue because of the ECB's new strategy of allocating international matches which has seen traditional venues struggle to get high-profile fixtures with games being switched to new centres such as Cardiff and Southampton. That has led to speculation that Lord's, which in recent years has hosted two Tests every summer, might only get one as more venues fight for the limited number of matches.

"We would prefer to know exactly what our major matches are going to be for the next 10 years, given that we are spending £200m on the ground, but we have moved to a very commercial situation where our fellow grounds are no longer our family but our competitors in a bidding process," Bradshaw said. "We bid a lot more for those matches than we ever have before. We will take account of what the ECB is trying to achieve and we are conscious of player fixtures and broadcasting contracts, but we have a very open mind and we would be very keen to host a Champions League event."

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