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English County learning strokes from IPL

BCCI’s Indian Premier League (IPL) seems to have created quite an impact in England with the English County now looking at re-designing the way the game is currently being played.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is thinking of liberalising its restrictions on overseas players, letting counties sign top stars from wherever to play in the Twenty20 Cup from 2009, a British newspaper has reported. The other considerations being — counties are allowed three or four overseas players per team instead of one.

Traditionally, English counties have ensured tight policies on their cricketers in order to build develop local talent for the England team and each county is only allowed one officially-designated foreigner at a time. “India is creating a 21st century cricketing Raj of its own and has adopted Twenty20 cricket — a British invention like cricket itself — with the zeal of a convert. It has not one Twenty20 league but two, both of them determined to snare the best players in the world,” the report in Financial Times says.

“The talk this week (excited or fearful, according to taste) has been that this is just the beginning — and that the city-based franchise system of the IPL will inevitably take over the world, wiping out English cricket’s county-based set-up in no time at all,” it adds.

The rules are likely to witness drastic changes with players of the English county putting pressure on the England and Wales Cricket Board to participate in the IPL, the report says. In fact, in all probability if not for this season, in 2009 the rules will be re-designed by the English County to compete with what is being termed as the “British equivalent of the business-backed IPL”.

A proposal suggesting the above has already been presented to the England and Wales Cricket Board in an attempt to up the ante for England’s own Twenty20 Cup. Meanwhile, with the Indian Premier League (IPL) witnessing some really high buys at the auction that took place in Mumbai last month, English cricketers feel that they seem to have lost out in unlocking value for themselves, according to IPL officials.

English cricketers were kept out of the auction for the first season this year as the players had commitments towards the English County, which is slated to take place in April. However, England players have been in touch with IPL officials, and have expressed interest in becoming a part of IPL’s contracted pool of players.

IPL officials have stated that they would like English cricketers to be a part of the IPL, considering the demand from the franchise owners. A point in note being that most franchise owners have exhausted their $5 million kitty, the only exception being Jaipur, Mohali and Kolkata.

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