|Players see pathway to Indian riches through England representation – 25 April 2008
The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), the representative body for past and present first class cricketers, has recently canvassed the opinions of over 334 players, including all of the current England squad. The research provides a comprehensive picture of the current cricketing landscape with particular reference to the Indian cricket leagues, the opportunity they offer and their potential threat to the domestic game.
Almost 100 per cent of players see Indian cricket leagues as an attractive option and are hoping that a window in the Future Tours Programme (FTP), and scheduling that doesn't conflict with the domestic season, can be created for them. 36 players (11 per cent) have been approached to play in either the ICL or current IPL tournaments, with 27 players targeted specifically by the ICL.
Players believe the T20 format and the newly formed Indian leagues create a level of threat to the fabric of the game as we currently know it. The restrictions put in place by the ECB prevent a player from participating in county cricket for 12 months if they play in the next ‘unauthorised' ICL tournament in October, but 18 per cent (60) said that they would sign up for ICL knowing there was a ban in place. A further 27 per cent (90) were currently unsure at this time.
England One Day captain, Paul Collingwood, said: "We've all said how attractive the IPL is, but it's clear the pathways are through England representation. We must try to create an even better T20 competition than we have now in our summer, but importantly not forget the cricket that goes around it both domestically and internationally. The players' views are vital in that process."
50 over cricket is also threatened by T20 dominance, however, player findings still indicate that 50 over ODI cricket has a place with 79 per cent believing it should maintain its current status at International level.
In relation to international governance, 64 per cent of England players have no confidence in the ICC to govern international cricket and 57 per cent believe that decisions are made along party lines by representatives acting in the best interests of the country that they are representing, and not in the best interests of cricket.
With regard to the restrictions for those tempted by ICL, the PCA and the players recognise that unauthorised cricket could potentially be a threat to our domestic game, however, when asked the ultimate question of whether they should be free to play where they want when out of contract in winter periods:
England Test captain, Michael Vaughan, commented: "The findings are revealing in many ways. We have always said playing for our country was the priority. Test cricket is the pinnacle and we see that International cricket is at present the pathway to achieve selection to any other authorised tournaments. We'll continue to work the ECB to see if opportunities within the FTP can be created in the coming years. In the meantime, we have much important domestic and international cricket this summer beginning, with the Kiwi's in a couple of weeks. Let's concentrate on that for now."
The PCA does not sit on the ECB DSRG, but has begun a new domestic structure review, building on the last year's ‘Tougher Structures to Test County Players'. Results, findings and templates for the domestic and International English summer will be released in May after further consultation with players, the PCA Cricket Advisory Group and key stakeholders.
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