Evidence of a backlash in the shires against plans for an English equivalent of the Indian Premier League emerged last night when the chief executive of Somerset accused his Yorkshire counterpart of "arrogance" for suggesting that smaller counties might combine to form single Twenty20 teams.
Somerset's Richard Gould claims that Stewart Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive who was one of a trio of county representatives at a meeting with suspended IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in Delhi in March, suggested that Gloucestershire, Somerset and Glamorgan could be rolled into one Cardiff-based franchise as part of the plan, which would see the creation of a nine-team league based on the English Test venues.
"We thought this was being wholly arrogant," Gould told Somerset's official website. "I put to him that maybe Yorkshire should link up with Lancashire. His reaction was that there were far too many people to warrant anything less than two teams."
Gould's grasp of geography seemed questionable when he suggested that "Somerset stretches from Bath right the way down to Land's End" but he qualified the comments by adding that it represented "one of the biggest county catchments on the circuit."
"We think he [Regan] is being arrogant and he doesn't pay due respect to county cricket throughout the country," he added. "We are just getting fed up with the Test match grounds chasing cash to pay off their own debts that they have entered into. We feel that they are trying to sell us down the Swanee."
Modi, who is under investigation by the cricket authorities in India over allegations of corruption, is reported to have told Regan, who travelled to India with Warwickshire's Colin Povey and David Hodgkiss of Lancashire, that each franchise in any English Premier League would be "guaranteed" between $3m and $5m (£2m-£3.3m) per year in revenue, with IPL investors keen to support an equivalent competition based here.
Regan sent details of the meeting, described as a "fact-finding mission", to ECB chairman Giles Clarke, who subsequently accused Modi of trying to "destroy world cricket's structure, especially that in England, and create a new rebel league". Clarke has been threatened with legal action by both Modi and sports marketing giant IMG over his accusations.