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English game may follow IPL lead

By Oliver Brett

Michael Vaughan
England captain Vaughan is enthusiastic about IPL cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board has begun canvassing the views of players with the aim of setting up its own version of the Indian Premier League.

BBC Sport understands intensive talks with an American backer are taking place with the full support of the Professional Cricketers' Association.

England captain Michael Vaughan said: "Even young players at Yorkshire want to talk about IPL cricket.

"We would be silly not to try to produce our own kind of competition."

And one prominent county chairman has urged the ECB to act quickly.

Hampshire's Rod Bransgrove said: "We invented Twenty20, but India reacted fastest to its commercial potential."

This is a game that needs full exploitation rather than regulation

Rod Bransgrove
Hampshire chairman

Vaughan, speaking ahead of the LV County Championship campaign opener against Hampshire at Headingley, added: "Whether you can throw the monies which have been thrown about in India into a league in England, I'm not sure.

"But it is on the tip of everyone's tongues."

Former England opener Marcus Trescothick also feels any English Premier League has to be considered.

"You can never rule anything out - whatever it is, as long as it doesn't clash with the county stuff," he said.

"It's just a case of understanding what the whole set-up would be. You can't rule anything out at this stage - money talks.

"Everyone has a right to play in ICL or IPL or whatever it might be - and make the dosh they need to."

The IPL, which began last Friday, has attracted big crowds, eager to watch top international names and all India's star players competing in the game's newest and most popular format.

The action off the pitch, with Bollywood's biggest stars spotted in the stands and American cheerleaders rousing the fans, has also proved a big hit.

The ECB began talks with Sir Allen Stanford, a Texan billionaire who has his own Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies, on 15 April.

606: DEBATE
mikesiva

Two days later it said it was "very likely" to accept his proposal to field an England side for a one-off match, in spring 2009, against a West Indies All-Stars XI.

The winner would receive $20m (10m).

ECB executives then flew to Bangalore for the IPL launch where they held further talks with the West Indies Cricket Board.

BBC Sport now understands the original, single Twenty20 international will develop into a full series.

Meanwhile, Stanford and the ECB have started focusing their talks on a response to the IPL.

The two sides are considering ways of giving England's contracted players - who are barred from accepting the IPL dollars until 2010 - a way of improving their incomes via Twenty20.

One source said: "The players' views are being listened to.

"Sean Morris [PCA chief executive] and David Collier [ECB chief executive] are speaking on a very regular basis.

"Anything that makes the game more healthy is something the PCA would be in favour of."

And though Bransgrove said he did not know any details of the talks between Stanford and the ECB, he said an English version of IPL would be a "fantastic idea".

Bransgrove told BBC Sport: "There is a need for dialogue between the ECB and creative entrepreneurs.

"I hope we learn more about the potential of Twenty20 cricket and sell it big-time to the public and broadcasters."

The ECB realise they're at a crossroads. They either let the Indians do it or they step up and get a game plan

Sir Allen Stanford

Bransgrove, a businessman who has invested millions of pounds into cricket, said it was not necessary for the ECB to copy the IPL strategy of selling team franchises to entrepreneurs and celebrities.

But he did say: "It would be nice to see more inward investment.

"We should invest in getting more international stars in the English game, rather than less.

"This is a game that needs full exploitation rather than regulation.

"We can learn from the commercial approach to the game that the IPL has taken."

The ECB, which released a statement on Tuesday mentioning "constructive, positive and very productive" discussions with Stanford, declined to comment further.

Stanford gave an interview to the Times in which he called the ECB "conservative".

He added: "The ECB realise they're at a crossroads. They either let the Indians do it or they step up and get a game plan.

"You want something that will have lasting value for everybody. The ECB, for my estimation, need to be the driver.

"With the IPL, when the sizzle and sparkle has gone away, what's left?"


see also
Sidebottom backs big-money game
22 Apr 08 |  England
But is it really cricket?
22 Apr 08 |  South Asia
England bosses soften IPL stance
16 Apr 08 |  Cricket
England duo handed Wisden award
09 Apr 08 |  Cricket
England IPL ban 'will not work'
09 Apr 08 |  England
ECB chief rejects Pietersen plea
07 Apr 08 |  England


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