Two of England's leading international grounds, Lord's and The Oval, are considering offers to stage exhibition games involving teams from the Indian Premier League, according to a report in The Birmingham Post.
Although the venues for the initial games have already been allocated in India, there seems an increasing likelihood that other international venues will be also be used, as a way to promote the tournament around the world as much as provide world-class facilities. As it stands, however, the London venues will only host exhibition matches.
Paul Sheldon, the Surrey chief executive, declined to comment to The Times, while a spokesman for the MCC also refused to make a statement.
Meanwhile, the Domestic Structure Review Group, chaired by Glamorgan chairman Paul Russell, will go before the ECB on April 9 and is due to suggest a radical response to the IPL. The committee proposes two new Twenty20 competitions, the first of which will run in early summer along similar lines to the old Benson & Hedges Cup which ran for 30 years from 1972. It will feature Minor Counties, the universities and Ireland and Scotland.
The second tournament, according to today's Daily Telegraph, will be called the English Premier League, taking place at the height of summer and consisting of 21 teams in three groups of seven - with county sides supplemented by international players from India, Australia and South Africa. The idea falls in line with the suggestions made by ECB's chairman, Giles Clarke, that England should mirror some of the IPL's makeup: namely, that Twenty20 sides field three overseas players and four players under the age of 23.
"We wanted to see something radical come out of this committee," an insider told the Daily Telegraph, "but instead it is as if they have put all the same balls into the hat, shaken them around a bit and taken them out again.
"The idea of restoring the old Benson & Hedges Cup under a different name is just crazy. What this needed is some vision, a different pair of eyes. The DSRG should have gone out and sought the input of the players, the press, television. What about city teams, for instance, rather than counties? If we don't take this thing by the scruff of the neck, we will find that the game has been pinched off us by other operators."