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The ECB is slowly adjusting to the reality of the IPL

No, this is not a posting about the European Central Bank. ECB, in Brian Micklethwait World, stands for E(ngland and Wales) C(ricket) B(oard). And IPL stands for Indian Premier League, the twenty overs each way cricket tournament, the 2013 version of which has just got under way in India and which will end near the end of May. I’m watching it now on my television, and very entertaining it is.

What this posting is about, besides cricket, is the rise of India and the necessity for people in England who have dealings with India to acknowledge that India has risen.

From Cricinfo earlier this week:

David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has urged the BCCI …

BCCI is B(oard of) C(ontrol for) C(ricket in) India, i.e. India’s cricket bosses.

… to reschedule future IPL seasons to dovetail more successfully with the England first-class season in response to pressure from England players who are clamouring to participate in the event.

I told you so. That earlier posting, about how England star batsman Kevin Pietersen wants to play both for England and in the IPL, still holds up very well.

It isn’t just English players who are losing out here. Insofar as England’s own county cricket season involves, like the IPL, cricketers from around the world, the England season not clashing with the IPL would also make it easier for top overseas players to play in England over the summer. Playing in England is nothing like the financial windfall that an IPL contract is, but it can be a nice little earner, to say nothing of a nice little learner about the different playing conditions of England. Ricky Ponting, the former Australian captain, is now playing in the IPL, captaining one of the teams. Later this year, Ponting will be playing some English county cricket, for Surrey.

England’s cricket bosses still have a way to go. They appear to have at last realised that they do indeed have a problem, and that this problem is not adequately described by being labelled “Kevin Pietersen”. This is progress. But, this Collier man is still going on about what he and his mates would like.

“We have had very fruitful talks with India,” Collier said. “In an ideal world, we would like the IPL to be concluded by April 30, which is the cooler season for India. We have put that to them, they are doing their best, but they realise there are some limitations.

“It would make things a lot easier for us. …”

Yes, it would. But the IPL is now an established success. It has done wonders for Indian cricket, and for the comfort and excellence of India’s cricket grounds. It gives young Indian cricketers a marvellous stage to impress. It has transformed Indian fielding, once notoriously sluggish. Because twenty-twenty cricket only obliges bowlers to bowl four overs, it has also encouraged Indian fast bowling, which also was once upon a time a joke. (Fast bowlers from everywhere, come to that.) Whereas the typical Indian international cricketer used to a little man in the Sachin Tendulkar mould, of the sort who would have been a bank clerk had he not had the trick of playing cricket, the new Indian cricketer is more likely to be a towering alpha male with the physique of a super-hero, who either bowls like the wind or who hits the ball deep into the crowd with ease.

When Indians think about the IPL now, that is the stuff they are thinking about, not the fact that all the IPL clashes with the frigid beginnings of the English season.

Why on earth would India now rearrange the entire IPL timetable, just to suit the English? Would it not make more sense for the English to rearrange their season by starting that later? Like, after the increasingly cold and prolonged English winter has ended? (I would love to know what Britain’s Meteorological Office has been telling England’s cricket bosses about how the weather in April was going to get more cricket-friendly.) Why cannot the English season start in mid-May rather than mid-April, like it used to? (I can recall when a batsman getting a thousand runs in May in England was a huge deal, because he only had the fag end of May to do this in.) If England’s cricket season must start in the rain, wind and snow of April, then can it really not do without a few increasingly rebellious star players? It can, and it will, because it will have to.

All the English cricket bosses have to do is acknowledge reality. All the Indian cricket bosses have to do is … nothing. If the Indians do decide to shorten the IPL season, this will be entirely for their own reasons, mostly to do with television. Happening to oblige the damn English would probably, for many of them, be a bug rather than a feature.

The basic problem is that the English have for too long treated the IPL as just another foreign tournament, instead of what it clearly has been from the moment it started, namely the premier franchise cricket tournament in the world, based in the premier cricket-supporting nation in the world. Only now, prodded by England players who are becoming ever more desperate not to miss the IPL bus, are the England cricket hierarchy beginning to grasp this obvious fact. Even Wisden, in among having another moan about Kevin Pietersen, realises that the ECB has badly mishandled this issue.

Now, about that European Central Bank, and its need to adjust to reality

9 comments to The ECB is slowly adjusting to the reality of the IPL

  • Mr Ed

    I was expecting something about exchange controls in Cyprus and an up-and-coming Cypriot cricketer not getting paid.

    Note to individual fleas: An Elephant will carry on regardless of you.

  • Rich Rostrom

    (I can recall when a batsman getting a thousand runs in May in England was a huge deal, because he only had the fag end of May to do this in.)

    I don’t see how it could not be a huge deal, even if he plays the whole month. That’s hitting centuries in ten consecutive matches, and who ever played ten matches in a month?

  • Saxon

    The problem is ECB is perceived as being bossy (at least having been so in the past when MCC was the Mecca of cricket) by BCCI, and BCCI wants to boss over the erswhile colonial bosses. So, it is unlikely they will do anything to accommodate ECB. May be the hot weather in India will force IPL to start a bit early in mid March and conclude by end of April.

    Eoin Morgan and KP are the two stars who are doing well in IPL, not sure if there is such a demand for the rest of the English players. Finn will do well, but Swann is better off not playing in IPL.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    An Indian guru once commented, “The English invented cricket so they would know what God meant by eternity.” Wiser words were never said!

  • Why on earth would India now rearrange the entire IPL timetable, just to suit the English?

    My thoughts exactly. The ECB is coming across as a bunch of crusty old colonists who haven’t woken up to harsh realities yet. And if they’d thought about this for two minutes, they would see that the IPL is timed to start after exams in Indian schools: Indians like to watch cricket as a family, and no Indian parent wants the IPL on during exam season. This was pointed out several times in the CricInfo comments under the story, but the ECB seem utterly unaware of it. Idiots.

  • Antoine Clarke

    The ECB reminds me of the FA when the invitation arrived from Jules Rimet to play in a World Cup. It wasn’t thought worthy of a reply. (Note that England might actually have been capable of winning a WC in the 1930s…)

  • Antoine Clarke

    Another was that racist tosser Alan Hardacker, Football League secretary in the 1950s and 1960s. He stopped Chelsea from taking part in the first European Champions Cup, threatening expulsion from the Football League, and the League Cup, which continues to sap the top English clubs, was created to undermine the European “wogs and Dagoes”.

    The guy also got one of the most outrageous abuses of Copyright law to be accepted in English courts: the list of football matches and their scores “belongs” to the FA and the Football League.

  • The guy also got one of the most outrageous abuses of Copyright law to be accepted in English courts: the list of football matches and their scores “belongs” to the FA and the Football League.

    The copyright on television listings comes close, I think. (Yes, this means that if you are a newspaper, you have to pay a fee to television stations in order to be allowed to publish the times that television programmes are broadcast).

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