Melbourne, Apr.17 : Cricket Australia has said that it is open to the idea of launching its own version of a privately funded Twenty20 competition similar to the Indian Premier League (IPL) hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), but not at the expense of the Future Tours Program (FTP).
"We always look at new ideas. We remain committed to international tours, but we are also aware of what Allen Stanford is planning in the West Indies with Twenty20, as is the International Cricket Council. We will also be monitoring the new IPL competition, which is about to start in India. It will be a case of suck it and see," Fox Sports quoted Cricket Australia's acting chief executive Michael Brown, as saying.
Brown's comments assume significance in the wake of reports that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is in talks with American billionaire Stanford to discuss the creation of a Twenty20 tournament similar to the IPL in England.
"We've seen tremendous growth and interest in our own domestic (Twenty20 competition) KFC Big Bash. The competition has been a huge success, averaging crowds of between 12,000 and 15,000. But at the moment we are dealing in hypotheticals. We remain committed to our future tours policy, that is the game's bread and butter," Brown said.
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the ECB to release centrally contracted players such as Test captain Michael Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen to take up huge money deals in the IPL, which starts tomorrow, providing it does not clash with international commitments.
The ECB said that it was considering detailed proposals from Stanford, who set up the Stanford Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean.
Players are eager to take part in the newest form of the game, which held its first World Cup last year, drawing bigger audiences and more enthusiastic crowds in South Africa than the traditional 50-over World Cup in the Caribbean.
The ECB has been concerned about scheduling conflicts with the English season and what is seen as a shift in power towards Asia. The inaugural IPL has attracted many of the world's leading players, including Australians Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee, Matt Hayden, Andrew Symonds, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.
Vaughan argues that it will be only a matter of time before England players join in.
Dimitri Mascarenhas is the only England player signed to take part in the inaugural season, but the all-rounder is not centrally contracted to the ECB.