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Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 16:20 UK

England stars eager for IPL cash

Dimitri Mascarenhas has already played in the IPL
Dimitri Mascarenhas took part in the inaugural IPL tournament

Several England players would consider international retirement to play in the Indian Premier League, according to the Professional Cricketers Association.

A total of 334 cricketers, including 15 who represented England last winter, were questioned before the 2008 season.

And around half of the England stars said they would consider "retiring prematurely" for big-money IPL deals.

"It is clear the new monies since the Indian leagues have unbalanced the cricketing landscape," the PCA said.

"It seems unlikely that any other competition around the cricketing world could put as much money on the table and create a competition of equal proportions in the near future and therefore IPL will remain a threat, a force and an opportunity to the cricketing world for some time to come."

The survey, made public on Monday, was carried out before the recent announcement of a 50m series between England and a West Indies XI, backed by billionaire Sir Allen Stanford.

But the Stanford plan would not preclude England players from also pursuing IPL contracts, whenever their international commitments and county permit.

Twenty20 cricket has dominated the cricket headlines in recent months with the IPL and its unsanctioned rival, the Indian Cricket league (ICL), luring players from overseas to take part with lucrative contracts.

The survey also revealed that 45% of players questioned would consider signing up for the ICL, even though it could result in a 12-month ban from county cricket, and 89% believe "freedom of movement should prevail in regard to Indian cricket leagues".

The financial rewards offered by the Indian leagues will entice players to retire early from county and international cricket - and senior players at that

The Professional Cricketers Association

However, 56% agreed with the statement that "Twenty20 and its growing popularity threaten other forms of the game".

The PCA also expressed concerns about Twenty20 domination of cricket in its report which forms the background for the survey results.

"The current imbalance between remuneration for Twenty20 cricket and the longer forms of the game does present a very real threat to the existing fabric of the game," the report states.

"The financial rewards offered by the Indian leagues will entice players to retire early from county and international cricket - and senior players at that. The impact on the strength of our international sides would be huge.

"This would have the potential to significantly devalue our TV rights as well as reducing the attraction of English cricket to the fans."

The PCA recommends a gap in the international cricket schedule in March and April to prevent England players having to choose between their country and the financial attractions of the sub-continent.

606: DEBATE
StSaddler

Regarding international matches, 93% of those players questioned felt it was important that Test cricket maintained its current status.

Many observers and spectators believe that one-day internationals of 50 overs are likely to become obsolete, but 79% of all players surveyed believe they should remain.

The PCA report also reveals a dramatic increase in non-England qualified players in the domestic game.

Excluding overseas players, in 2007 there were 30 non-England players in the county game, but that rose to 62 for the start of the 2008 season, and the report warns the figure is likely to rise further if county players opt for the ICL and are banned for 12 months.

The structure of English cricket is currently under review and Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has advocated changing the format of the County Championship to feature three conferences, instead of the current two divisions.

But the report describes that idea as "a backward step."

It says that playing standards have improved in recent years and although a three conference format of 12-15 matches per season for each team does have some merit, it "doesn't reduce cricket enough to have any significant impact".

But 90% of the players questioned feel the time is right to drop the Pro40 competition from the schedule, leaving three competitions instead of four.

Of those surveyed, 62% now rate the Championship as the most important domestic competition following the announcement of plans for a Twenty20 Champions League involving domestic teams from around the world.

"The amount of Champions League prize monies on offer for counties is 25 times greater than for the four-day Championship. Consequently, players' views of relative importance of our domestic tournaments has changed significantly," the report concludes.




see also
Gloucestershire defy IPL chiefs
13 Jun 08 |  Gloucestershire
ECB plans to revise Test bonuses
08 Jun 08 |  England
Warne's Royals win inaugural IPL
02 Jun 08 |  Cricket
English game may follow IPL lead
23 Apr 08 |  England


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