‘ECB Should Have Accepted BCCI Request In Exchange for MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli Playing The Hundred’
Former opener Mark Butcher feels the ECB should have agreed to the BCCI’s request to change the Test series schedule to accommodate the remaining games of IPL as it would have given the England Board the leverage to get top Indian players for its ‘Hundred’ tournament.
The Indian Board had informally made a request to shift the five-match Test series between India and England, starting August 4, by a week in order to accommodate the remaining 31 IPL games but it has not met with any favourable response from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
“Well, listen. I take a deep breath here … as does the nation. I think it’s a massive missed opportunity,” Butcher said during the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast.
Butcher said accepting the request would have given ECB the leverage to get top Indian cricketers such as Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni for ‘The Hundred’ tournament, the ECB’s flagship project.
“…the ECB is absolutely desperate to make this (Hundred) work. They have to be, they have bet the house on The Hundred, but at every turn, it seems a greater power doesn’t want it to happen,” said the 48-year-old Butcher who played 71 Tests for England between 1997 and 2004.
“And so for me, this was the opportunity where you’ll say ‘Okay, we’ll bite the bullet… We would do this for the BCCI on the proviso that we get Kohli, Dhoni, whoever we like, signed up for three years to play in The Hundred, starting 2022’.”
The inaugural edition of ‘The Hundred’, a 100-ball tournament involving eight men’s and women’s teams, was scheduled to take place last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And you have leverage for the first time ever: you have something that they need, that they want. Obviously, the BCCI will lose a lot of money if they don’t get the IPL in the window,” Butcher said.
“You also have the extraordinary spectacle of the IPL being finished at the behest or because of English cricket. And you use that lever in order to get something you desperately need. So I think there’s an opportunity missed.”
The IPL was suspended early this month after multiple COVID-19 cases were reported inside its bio-bubble.
According to a senior BCCI official, the IPL will now resume tentatively on September 18 or 19 in the UAE with as many as 10 double-headers expected to be played during a three-week window.