English cricketers, and perhaps fans too, are rejoicing at the moment over the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to allow their contracted players a 15-day window to participate in the second season of the Indian Premier League. The decision has also been backed by the Professional Cricketers Association.
Hugh Morris, the managing director of the ECB, announced it on Tuesday. Sean Morris, the chief executive of the PCA said, “The decision was a realistic and sensible one, which should make the guys (players) feel happy.”
The two also spoke in general about what to expect once the auctions begin, that Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff realistically happen to be the only two big-earners and how even on a pro-rata basis these players would end up earning £300,000 for a 15-day period from April 10-25.
An ECB spokesperson confirmed to the ToI that these decisions were in place. The players under contract with the ECB will now receive a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their board to sign contracts with the IPL franchisees.
However, there’s a certain catch to this development, that may upset the ECB, its players, the PCA and the fans. Highly placed sources in the IPL told TOI that league commissioner Lalit Modi will not accept this ECB decision.
“We can confirm that if it is a 15-day period that ECB have agreed to, the IPL governing council will not accept it. Even if you keep aside what the governing council does, no team will even think of signing these players and they’ve been saying this time and again,” a top IPL official said.
England cricketers, any which way, don’t have a choice. Either they accept the 15-day period allotted by the ECB or they stay away. West Indies are scheduled to tour England in the last week of April for two Tests and three One-day Internationals, followed by the 21-day preparatory camp for the Ashes.
IPL franchisees do not see this as a positive sign though they are yet to take this up with Modi who is currently holidaying. “What purpose does a 15-day window solve,” asked a team official. Delhi Daredevils official TA Sekar was candid when he said, “There’s no point pouring any money on players who wouldn’t be available. In fact, I’d say availability is the biggest factor any team will look at if they are looking to build a side.”
Modi is scheduled to speak to the ECB in the coming week. Though a formal decision will be taken only after they meet, it is learnt that Modi will not agree to the 15-day period.