ECB schedule headache over T20 participation
The ECB faces a tough decision over its scheduling of the domestic season after Lalit Modi, the man at the helm of both the IPL and the T20 Champions League, asked the governing body to make “minor adjustments,” in order to allow English teams to compete in the lucrative Champions League.
The tournament, which involves the leading domestic teams from around the world, offers over $6 million in prize money making it an extremely attractive incentive for counties.
The inaugural competition, played in India last autumn, took place in the aftermath of the English season and allowed Somerset and Sussex the opportunity to compete.
However this year’s schedule, unveiled on Wednesday, clashes with both England’s home ODI series against Pakistan and with the climax of the County Championship and 40 over competitions.
The impending ECB decision therefore marks a key moment in their relationship with Modi and cricket’s new sub-continental hierarchy.
Under the bullish leadership of Chairman Giles Clarke, the ECB’s attitude towards the new T20 revolution has been somewhat cluttered. They restricted players from competing in the first edition of the IPL and instead attempted to placate them with the millions on offer from Sir Allen Stanford, whose helicopter landing on the Lords nursery ground will stand as a monument to the folly of that misguided partnership.
Thereon, their attitude seemed to soften and the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were auctioned off for record sums by the time of the IPL’s second coming and two English counties were invited to participate in the Champions League last year.
However Modi, who has defended his scheduling as being the most considerate towards the ICC future tours programme, cares little for the ECB and has shown in the past that he is unafraid of ruffling a few feathers.
It creates a major headache for the ECB who must now negotiate with Modi and the counties in order to avoid a potentially embarrassing scenario. Should neither side blink, there is the possibility of the T20 winners fielding second string XI’s in the final two rounds of the County Season in order to take a shot at the $2.5 winner’s cheque.
There are also those who see the challenge as an ideal opportunity to enforce a shortening of the already bloated domestic calendar. Two divisional championship cricket has brought some fantastic climaxes since it was introduced but with the games taking place well into September, with the football season already started and the weather in decline, public interest – already low to begin with- is almost nil.
But Clarke’s ego is infamously prodigious and Modi has little need to pamper to the ECB’s request, making a period of infuriating stand-off almost inevitable.