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ECB latest to oppose ICC proposal for more global tournaments

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25: Colin Graves of the ECB launches the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval on May 25, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)

The England and Wales cricket board has joined the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket Australia in opposing proposals by the International Cricket Council to launch a new flagship event each year from 2023 to 2031.

During its last meeting in Dubai, the ICC had proposed alterations to the next Futures Tours Programme (FTP) cycle across the eight-year period between 2023 and 2031. These included a total of eight events in eight years, comprised of two 50-over World Cups, four T20 World Cups and two more multi-national tournaments.

ECB chairman Colin Graves sent an email (seen by the Press Trust of India) to ICC chief executive Manu Sawhney, saying: “ECB is not in a position to support the current proposal for ICC events from 2023-2031.”

Graves highlighted a number of issues, including risks to the “integrity of the bilateral cricket calendar for all member boards”; to players’ welfare; and “devaluing [the] World Test Championship and future health of Test cricket”.

He added: “ECB cannot support a schedule where our best players need to play more than they currently do. Players’ welfare is primary concern to the ECB and current proposal requires that international players are likely to have fewer days to prepare and rest.”

The BCCI was the first to object to the plan, and BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal said to the Indian Express: “We are seriously going to oppose their (new) governance structure, business model and future tours programme. If it comes to the crunch, then I don’t see the BCCI signing the Members Participation Agreement.”

Graves’ email now means that the three most financially-powerful boards in world cricket have all objected to the ICC plan, with CA chief executive Kevin Roberts expressing concerns about the ICC’s proposals last month and insisting that the next cycle is still “absolutely up for discussion” and is set to “continue in the months ahead”.

All three boards earn earn substantial income from bilateral cricket, and additionally run high-value domestic T20 leagues.

Graves added: “We are keen to work closely together with ICC to promote the interests of cricket globally, to attract more fans to the game, and to optimise commercial returns without further compromising the existing balance between ICC events and bilateral cricket.

“I am of the strong belief that working together as stakeholders, we can establish a calendar of events from 2023 onwards that achieves all of these aims and serves the interests of all ICC members.”