On the Front Foot: Crunch time as ICC milk Twenty20 cash cow for all it's worth

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The Independent Online

Sometimes it is possible to believe that money markets are in a serene state compared to cricket. The latest discussions among delegates to the International Cricket Council in Dubai will be based largely on satisfying the voracious demands of Twenty20 cricket, with England looking increasingly desperate.

Other matches will have to be fitted round the Indian Premier League, Champions League Twenty20 and possibly the tri-nations Twenty20 comprising India, Australia and South Africa. Anybody suspecting that this is directly opposed to the authorities' mission to protect Test cricket at all costs may have a point.

England (looking more and more hapless) are due to play Sri Lanka in home series next spring. The dates coincide with the IPL, to which Sri Lanka's star players are all contracted.

To try to lure them here for two Tests, it is being proposed that the one-day series be played first. But the Sri Lankan board may not be so keen, since it is reported that the Board of Control for Cricket in India are paying them substantial compensation for recruiting their players for IPL. England may have no one to play, leaving them breaking their broadcasting contract. So much for Test protection.

Additionally there are meant to be series – also clashing with T20 – involving South Africa and Australia and West Indies and Bangladesh. It is a mess to make a banker proud.

Blissful break in play

There has just been an unprecedented break in the international calendar of 33 days. It lasted from a one-dayer between Australia and Bangladesh in Darwin and the start of the First Test between India and Australia in Bangalore. It was bliss and it may never happen again. And it was purely thanks to the postponement of the Champions Trophy in Pakistan. Next year the longest gap is likely to be 16 days. The Champions Trophy has to be fitted in around the same time as it would have been played this year. It is to be hoped the ICC do not waste time assuming it can be played in Pakistan. It cannot, it will not.

Covering the rise of KP

'The Wisden Cricketer' is five years old. Born of a merger between the venerable 82-year-old magazine 'The Cricketer' and the punchier 'Wisden Cricket Monthly', it has performed the impossible trick of satisfying fans of different generations and tastes. Its leading cover stars tell the story of English cricket. Andrew Flintoff has been on the front 10 times, followed by Michael Vaughan (8) and Kevin Pietersen (6), and Stephen Harmison makes it four this month. What's the betting KP edges out Fred in the next half-decade?

Mark him down as trouble

Spot the difference. At the players' annual dinner Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, paid almost fulsome tribute to Mark Ramprakash (pictured) as an adornment to the game as he commemorated his hundred hundreds. A week later, an ECB panel banned Ramprakash for two matches for repeatedly swearing at an umpire. Hey ho.