The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is reportedly luring Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises by offering them stakes in The Hundred, an innovative league starting this July in England.
According to a report published in The Telegraph in England, each of the eight IPL franchises have been offered “25 per cent stake” in all the eight teams of The Hundred, with Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) reportedly showing interest.
Besides, the ECB has also offered the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) a “slice of Asian television rights” to get the glamour boys of world cricket, such as Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Rishabh Pant, among others, to play in The Hundred.
The talks between the BCCI and the ECB had started before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, said the report. It also said that when ECB chair Ian Watmore and CEO Tom Harrison visited Ahmedabad for the India-England pink ball Test last month, they discussed The Hundred with the BCCI officials.
Two senior BCCI officials, however, said on Thursday that they were not aware of any development or talks between the ECB and the BCCI regarding The Hundred. “I am not aware of it,” one of them told IANS, while the other concurred with him.
“It is understood the ECB is considering a number of potential partnership opportunities with India as they look to capitalise on a relationship with the game’s powerhouse that has never been stronger,” said the Telegraph report, adding: “It is also expected that Indian players will be made available this summer for the women’s Hundred, potentially paving the way for the men to follow in 2022.”
Manoj Badale, the London-based owner of Rajasthan Royals, and Venky Mysore, CEO and MD of Kolkata Knight Riders, had in the past said that they would explore if the opportunity to invest in The Hundred came their way.
However, both franchises confirmed to IANS on Thursday that there had been no further development or talks with the ECB regarding The Hundred.
Two years ago, Badale was asked if he sees the UK as a market for short format cricket. “Yes. The ECB is investing heavily in the development of cricket in this country and with The Hundred, their marketing spends will only increase further. We are looking to increase our touch points with the UK cricketing community and hence support the growth of the game,” Badale was quoted as saying by www.sportindustry.biz.
However, officials from the two franchises say that there has been no further development since the show of interest by KKR and RR bosses when the idea of The Hundred was floated a couple of years ago.
“Both Badale and Mysore had in the past mentioned that they could explore the opportunities to invest if they were to come by. However, they have not made any commitment and no development has been made so far on that front,” a franchise official aware of the two franchises’ developments told IANS.
The BCCI does not allow players to play in overseas T20 leagues. If an Indian cricketer wants to play in an overseas T20 franchise league, even for a team owned by an IPL franchise, he has to retire officially from Indian cricket, and inform the BCCI.
Pravin Tambe, who represented Rajasthan Royals, Gujarat Lions and SunRisers Hyderabad, had to quit official Indian cricket to represent Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League, even though the franchise is owned by Kolkata Knight Riders.
Players like Irfan Pathan, Munaf Patel and Sudip Tyagi quit in the same manner to play in the Lanka Premier League last year.
A lot of pieces of the jigsaw will have to fall in place for the BCCI to agree to the ECB proposal. One of the main factors will be the workload of the Indian superstars like Kohli and Bumrah, given that they play all three formats for India besides playing in all the matches for their respective IPL franchises.
Kohli, in fact, had expressed his views on The Hundred as early as 2018 when the ECB was planning the event.
“Obviously, for the people involved in the whole process and the set up, it will be really exciting but I cannot think of one more format, to be honest. I’m already very… I wouldn’t say frustrated, but sometimes it can get very demanding of you when you have to play so much cricket regularly. I feel somewhere the commercial aspect is taking over the real quality of cricket and that hurts me,” Kohli had told Wisden Cricket Monthly at the time.
“I don’t want to be a testing sort of a cricketer for any new format. I don’t want to be someone who’s going to be part of that World XI who comes and launches the 100-ball format,” he had said.
The Hundred will be played from July 22 to August 21, with the final slated at Lord’s, London.
The eight teams are: Birmingham Phoenix, London Spirit, Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers, Oval Invincibles, Southern Brave, Trent Rockets and Welsh Fire.
Each innings in a match will comprise 100 balls. Whoever scores the most runs wins. The fielding side changes ends after every 10 balls. Each bowler will deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls, and can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game.