England bow to new world order with IPL agreement
ECB to allow cricketers 21-day window to play in Indian Twenty20 league
Friday 23 January 2009
England finally backed down yesterday by agreeing to allow their players to appear in the Indian Premier League. It was the definitive confirmation that the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament, worth millions of dollars to star players, is not only here to stay but has changed the face of world cricket.
After tortuous three-way negotiations lasting for months it has been agreed that England's centrally contracted players will be permitted to play in the IPL for three weeks this April and in 2010. It means that the marquee names such as Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen will fly out to India less than a week after spending 73 days in the Caribbean playing three forms of cricket, will take part in a handful of matches for huge reward in the IPL and will return to England with five days to spare before the First Test match against the West Indies at Lord's.
Although this is far from ideal – and will shatter for ever the notion that players should be protected from burnout – there was in the end no choice. The England and Wales Cricket Board realised that it could not go on denying its players the chance to take part in the IPL without serious consequences on several fronts.
"If this works as I think, it will strengthen the central contracts system," said Sean Morris, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association, who has been involved in the talks throughout. "It has been very hard to reach this point but I think it has rebuffed the risk of players defecting or retiring early. That was a very real threat."
Apart from Pietersen and Flintoff the other Test players likely to attract IPL franchises are Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Stuart Broad. It can be taken as read that other players and their agents are working feverishly to get a slice of the action. Last year mind-boggling amounts were bid: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, now India's captain, fetched $1.5m (£1.1m). This year's fees will be determined at a player auction on 6 February.
The agreement, not quite signed off but said to be 99 per cent certain, was all about compromise. There was no way the ECB wanted its most precious assets to go but it was persuaded by two factors. First, the players might simply have gone. Secondly, the ECB is desperate for Indian cricketers to take part in the English Premier League in 2010.
Morris and his ECB namesake, Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, have been in negotiations for months. They had to satisfy Lalit Modi, the commissioner of the IPL. Modi, who was keen for the England players to stay for four weeks, eventually appears to have relented and reduced the participation period to three weeks.
Window of opportunity: England's IPL period
4 April: England return from West Indies tour
10 April: IPL starts
Sat-Sun 2-3 May: England players return to England from IPL
Thur 6 May: First Test v West Indies
Manchester United's best XI of the season so far: No place for Angel Di Maria or Juan Mata
Which player sells the most shirts in the Premier League?
WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
Italy vs England preview: Roy Hodgson to experiment with Phil Jones in midfield while Harry Kane joins Theo Walcott in attack
WrestleMania 31: The Undertaker begins a new streak after tombstoning Bray Wyatt
- 1 Replica Back to the Future Hoverboard released
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Brixton squat flats now costing up to £3k per month show how out of control rent is in London
- 4 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans