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Shorter games, long-running concerns for English cricket

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Mihir Bose | 19:03 UK time, Friday, 14 November 2008

It is tempting to see the meeting in India on Saturday between Giles Clarke, Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and Lalit Modi, the Indian Cricket Board Vice-President and the man who runs the Indian Premier League, as a summit that will determine who runs world cricket.

That would be over-blowing it. The fact is Indians and particularly Indian money run world cricket, and there is nothing anybody can do to alter it.

Clarke's ambition is to make sure the ECB gets on the Indian cricket gravy train - in the same way that Australia and South Africa have.

Giles Clarke in 2004

Having rebuffed the Indians in the summer, hoping Arab financiers would come in, he and the English board are under no illusion of the need to do a deal with the Indians.

Earlier this year when the IPL began, the hierarchy of the ECB was quite confident that it would not work. Indeed, I am told ECB board meetings heard presentations from ECB chief executive David Collier to that effect.

IPL has worked and is here to stay. The only question for Saturday is what sort of deal Clarke can get out of Modi.

I am told Clarke would like a share of the Champions League. Its inaugural tournament is due to be held in India next month.

As I have already reported, Clarke was offered a share by the Indians but rejected it in the summer, thinking he could outsmart the Indians with Arab money.

That failed and the Stanford experiment has hardly been a success, leaving England stranded while the Twenty20 train, driven by the Indians, is pulling away. The mission now is to get on board before it leaves the station.

Modi, in turn, would quite like to have Clarke inside his big tent rather than outside.

But, while Clarke may come back with a Modi deal, there are local difficulties he has to contend with here in England.

One of the most crucial is the role the MCC will have in the ECB. Will they want to be represented on the ECB Board as they are now?

I am told this matter is being discussed by the MCC committee.

MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw is ready to quit as a director of the ECB as the two roles are understood to create a conflict of interest for him.

As director of the ECB, he cannot voice his opinion as to how cricket is run and this has an impact on his principal role of running the MCC.

When elements of this story first appeared earlier this week, both the MCC and ECB declared how well they got on. It is known that Bradshaw is battling cancer and will have some time off for treatment.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Bradshaw and Clarke have often clashed at ECB Board meetings. They did so over the new television deal the ECB negotiated in the summer.

Sir Allen Stanford and the Stanford Superstars

The differences centered on how the various television packages were marketed and whether terrestrial outlets were given much of a choice.

But, in many ways, their principal differences have been over Twenty20 cricket and the Indian plans.

In the summer Modi had done a deal with Lord's and the Oval to hold the first IPL Champions League in this country this September. But this did not meet with ECB approval as Clarke was then working on his own plans.

Then there was the idea Bradshaw and David Stewart of Surrey had for an English Twenty20 tournament modelled on the IPL, with city franchises instead of counties.

The paper circulated to the ECB board was leaked. Clarke was not at all happy that, as an ECB director, Bradshaw was involved in this proposal.

The paper was quashed and the plans for city franchises abandoned.

Bradshaw, who had financers including Americans and Indians lined up, was not amused.
An ECB working party is looking at an English version of the IPL scheduled for 2010. But there is no word of how their plans are working.

There is doubt that a Twenty20 tournament involving all the counties would work. I am told there is a strong possibility a Stanford XI may be part of any such tournament.

Stanford provides another problem area for Clarke. The Stanford series comes to Lord's next summer. Besides England and the Stanford Superstars, it will involve Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

The three days of matches at Lord's will see the Stanford Superstars play one of the two visiting countries, England will play the other, with the winners meeting in the third and final match to decide which of their players win a million dollars each.

After his return from Antigua, Clarke assured the MCC that the matches at Lord's would avoid the embarrassing incidents seen in Antigua and the MCC would have total control.

But, for the Lord's edition of this bonanza, will it be called an England XI?

In Antigua, taken aback by the furore caused by the goings on, Clarke did suggest there might be a name change. However, some in Lord's are not comfortable with that.

If a new entity is created, how will it work? How will it help Lord's market a team which is not called England? And will it mean that in time Twenty20 will become detached from the England team?

Earlier this week Clarke had a meeting with the MCC committee. Clearly there is a lot of talking to do.

The power structure of world cricket has changed and Twenty20 could also change the way English cricket works. Twenty20 cricket and the gale that it has blown through the game in the last year is not yet spent.


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  • 1. At 09:39am on 15 Nov 2008, barkonk wrote:

    I thought English players didn't want any IPL money. Well thats what they said....

    BUt now they r runing after the IPL people and they dont want (or apprehensive)to sign the central contract.
    Love of playing for ur country?????Oh yes Flintoff, the most patriot English Cricketer now wants to play in IPL..
    Double standards I say or the English players didnt want to confess that in tabloids like SUN to reduce their image of good and humble English men who dont want riches of far away land.....
    Truth is they r professionals and want money

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  • 2. At 10:09am on 15 Nov 2008, rambo60 wrote:

    the crass hypocracy of the english south african aussie and new zealand players for years they drop out like flies at the oncoming of a sub continent tour know they line up to play thier at the hottest and most difficult part of the year talk about prostituting one self

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  • 3. At 12:26pm on 15 Nov 2008, pierrelebrun wrote:

    Clark should step down. English cricket's lost so much face under his tenure. Being so arrogant beforehand will cost English cricket dear. They are in an absolutely terrible negotiating position.

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  • 4. At 12:45pm on 15 Nov 2008, Cricketisreligion wrote:

    Dear Rambo ,
    Prostituting oneself ??? I am shocked. Why should this term be applied to cricket players ??? What about Ice Hockey(NHL), Golf, Basket ball(NBC); name any major sport in the world today including Football in Europe (we call it Soccer) where the professionals are not playing for money like any other profession ?? Dear Rambo; the average life of a cricketer is anywhere between 5-10 years with exceptions like Sachin Tendulkar playing for 19th year . So then who will pay for the cricket player's mortgages after the 5-6 years of average cricket life of a cricketer ? Unlike any Defense/Armed Forces of a country; where there are pensions; does any Cricket Board pay adequate life long pension to their players from whom you expect playing ONLY FOR THEIR OWN COUNTRY? Nice thought that looks good on paper to play only for one's own country but a stupid policy to put in practice. Pride alone does not pay the bills for the family in todays brutal world. How does an average cricketer survive during his life time with a decent living? And to play for money is what you call Prostitution???? Shell shocking as to why the same is not applied to Football which is so popular in UK or Europe ??? Would you then by your same yardstick, call Beckham playing in the past for MU and now for US club , also a Prostitute ??? Or is it that because it is being organised by Indians ? Tell me something ? Why was the same principle applied by ECB in playing for Stanford Trophy which was a big failure ??
    Stop insulting great cricket players as I am an ardent lover of cricket and want every criketer to earn good money like any other sports player. Only then we will have cricket added to Olympics. T20 in Olympics and Cricket world cup where the players will also play for their country but will mainly play for clubs Rajasthan Royals.

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  • 5. At 3:50pm on 15 Nov 2008, barkonk wrote:

    Dear Cricket is religion

    I think that what Rambo was saying that these Aussie, English, SA, NZ players slag of Indian condition when they tour India in Sep-Apr which is relatively comfortable mnths in term of Temprature.
    But IPL being played in Apr-May when places like Chd. Delhi r boiling these players will happpily play.

    As for my point abotu playing for one's own country. U have to read the contents of tabloids in which these above player say how proud they r to play for the country. I m not againt securing the future but against the double standards these guys put on.

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  • 6. At 6:28pm on 15 Nov 2008, jovialANANDSAMUEL wrote:

    This was a good article as was several articles before this on the same subject. (I had written about the same thing in 606 debate as recently as 2 days back). The fact of the matter is this. The ECB, particularly Clarke has to throw pride and arrogance aside and work with the IPL for the 2nd edition if not, they will not only miss the train leaving but the boat as well and with that the English players will miss out on playing with some the best players in the world in the IPL plus the added attraction of making some big bucks for a 6 week session! The IPL offered a good offer for the 1st edition and this was rejected by the ECB. They instead rather foolishly sort to outwit the Indians by falling into the bandwagon of a very greedy millionaire who had no interest in cricket but to make money for his own pocket! And the ECB will into that trap! Almost every Test playing countries were represented in the 1st IPL but rather sadly England was not there! Everybody with common sence knows the fiasco of the Stanford exercise to say the least! It was not a mistake but a great blunder! Now after this Stanford fiasco, Clarke is running tamely to Modi instead, who has played all the right cards at the right time, and this Modi can claim after the resounding sucess of the inaugaral IPL. The IPL had become a super hit and sucess even before the first ball was bowled! IPL has proved beyond a shadow of doubt that it is there to stay and nobody can ignore that fact! Whether Clarke likes it or not, he has to accept a second IPL offer as he very few bargaining chips left except his unwanted pride! It will greatly benifit the English players as a whole to play in the next IPL. There are millions in the sub continent wondering why England were not represented in the 1st IPL, and the blame for this is the ECB itself. Its high time they face up to the reality of this ball game where it is the IPL and Modi who are holding all the cards! Whether England accept an offer from the IPL for the 2nd edition or not the next fortnight or month would give an answer on that!

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  • 7. At 04:48am on 16 Nov 2008, suvams wrote:

    Why is that there is always a sour taste in all your references to India/Indian cricket.
    You seem to have issues in being Indian.
    For me you are a case of being neither here nor there.

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  • 8. At 3:15pm on 16 Nov 2008, Kash79 wrote:

    I don't have a problem with India having the bully pulpit. I think after years of belittling, sidelining and disrespect- I'm pleased to see them finally calling the shots.

    But power in the hands of the few-in this case pretty much in the hands of one- will hurt the health of the game in the long run.

    England did little to progress or expand the game when they were in charge of the game for decades and decades. Their aristocratic elite attitude toward the game didn't allow game to prosper among the masses.

    Australia, on the other hand, took some innovative steps to enhance interest in the game.

    Its India's turn now.

    I'm impressed at their ability to sell the game. The recent Standford million dollar tournament was a joke compared to the fabulous IPL staging.

    However, so far Indians have not employed discipline, fairness or transperancy in their governance. They seem little bothered to address the side effects and the long term affects of IPL success.

    On a relavent note, why is everything so complex and messy with the ECB?

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  • 9. At 5:14pm on 16 Nov 2008, pradeep2 wrote:

    rambo 50/cricketreligion Last year when the IPL started ever one on this blog was rubbishing the IPL and the players taking part,lot of guys here were praising the ECB and the english players, for ignoring the whole set up.Bopara's name came up along with Flintof,every one saying how patriotic these English players were.But the reality was different KP openly complained for missing out on the big buck.My answer was all these players old and young have bills to pay and what nice way to earn lot of money by doing what u like to do best.A lot of young Indian players came from very very ordinary back ground,hardly a proper house or even clothing to wear,after just one tournament they have nice houses to live in, a nice car to drive and a lot more,what's wrong with that.I say good luck to all the players irrespective of their coloure or creed.

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  • 10. At 9:08pm on 16 Nov 2008, trolley6969 wrote:

    Blimey - 2 days since you wrote this story and I'm only the 10th post! Robbo Robson's regulars will be laughing their heads off!

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  • 11. At 11:54pm on 16 Nov 2008, Cricketisreligion wrote:

    Dear Barkonk;

    Yes I may have short of understanding the context in which Rambo's remarks are made. I am sorry about that. But nonetheless whatever be their remarks either from England players, media, ECB or even the readers on this blog in the past, that still does not take away any cricket player in the world to play for money as I was comparing any equivalent sport in Europe or USA/Canada(where I am settled now since many years ) where players of any sport play for money. whosoever made the comment in the past about loyalty could have made out of lack of perspective and if there is an opportunity which they see now to make money, why should it be equated to prostitution?? That belittles the cricket game and I am against that hence my above comment. It is but natural that some English players would have supported ECB backed Stanford trophy games but that does not take away their right to change their view and you cannot call it double standards. Everyone cricket player has a right to exploit any opportunity which was missed by him in the past.
    How do we know that 3 years from now IPL will be the best or only tournament and also in the same form as it exists today ? I am also against cricket players banned by BCCI or ICC for playing in the ICL tournament. I am sorry but that is treating cricket players like slaves or bonded labour. Newzealand, Pakistan, Bangladesh are the main teams hurt due to this monoploistic policy against ICL> Cricket is a game and a professional game now unlike in the past and people need to change with the changing times.
    I predict "DEMISE OF TEST CRICKET" in few years and so be it if the viewers want to watch and enjoy only ODIs and 20-20. After I left India in 1991, I have seen that in North Amnerica people would dread at the thought of playing or even watching a game for 5 days and have a "DRAW". That was what the reality is . This is why the game was never popular in many countries but the ODIS and 20-20 is drawing interest from countries like China apart from Canada and USA who will also eventually pick up T20 . Why should shorter runs of cricket game be a concern for Englich cricket ??? or anyone for that matter? Why is playing for money being equated to prostitution ? why don't we say the same for any other sport ?
    Cheers to shorter version of cricket game. It is NOT boring and drab but all excitment and fun.

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  • 12. At 11:44am on 17 Nov 2008, mittheimp wrote:

    Why does Agnew's column not allow comments anymore? has he become over sensitive about criticism? I thought the BBC was all about sharing and publishing a variety of opinions! I hope this is just temporary.

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  • 13. At 8:57pm on 17 Nov 2008, SuperStrikerShivam wrote:


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  • 14. At 11:42am on 18 Nov 2008, TAHATAHTAH wrote:

    I am behind 20-20 and most innovations in the game (with the exception of the fleece replacing the sweater).
    But in answer to why Test cricket? - just remember the Ashes 2005. Drawn out? You bet. And the best sport I have ever seen!

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  • 15. At 1:29pm on 21 Nov 2008, bt0102uk wrote:

    Let's see- IPL started, the snooty bigwigs in ECB thought they were above all this upstartish business and that it would never work. They also stopped England players from taking part, instead promising them all the riches in guise of Arab money and money from Stamford. Guess what IPL worked, it was fun and lot of people including players made a whopping load of money. English players then found out that there is no Arab money, and everyone knows what happened with Stamford, Nothing apart from Mr Stamford having a free and easy time with the WAGS. Even now Clark and his sidekicks are trying to monouver things to their advantage.

    Do they realise that they don't have the power anymore? and it is only a matter of time before the players say enough is enough and that they want some of the loot as well?

    Wake up Mr Clarke the days of Britain running world cricket and dictating to all nations in matter of cricket are well and truly gone. Cricket, money and media follow the game where all the good cricket is , where the crowds are and yes where all the money is- this is the fact of life and faster Mr Clarke and his cronies discover this and get on the train the better it would be for everyone.

    Just ask yourself one question, last year the IPL was the most successful event in the history of cricket, everyone made a shed load of money - without english players ( a loss for the english players) so why would IPL need to cater for your petty demands? Couldn't they just tell you to go away in the nicest possible terms? who would lose out?

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