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Under-pressure Collier forced to make IPL plea
David Collier, the ECB chief executive, has urged the BCCI 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.
In an interview with The Times, Collier revealed that he had recently held talks with officials from the BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa with a view to finding a solution to the tensions created within international cricket by the growth of domestic T20 leagues.
Collier has contended that, in future years, the IPL can be completed before the end of April to allow England players to participate without compromising their involvement in England's international schedule which starts in mid-May. This year's IPL ends on May 26.
"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. We still have to get the workload balance right, but it would make it a lot easier for our players to be available for that period and certainly the BCCI are fully aware of that. There is a willingness on the part of both boards to see if we can make any progress."
The talks come in the context of the ECB re-negotiating the value of central contracts with England players. The players' union, the Professional Cricketers' Association, is requesting substantial pay increases to compensate its members for their non-appearance, or at best fleeting appearance, in the IPL, and have argued that Australian players earn far more from their Board and have more opportunity to appear in T20 leagues such as the IPL and Big Bash.
As a consequence, the ECB, eager not to raise the value of the contracts above sustainable levels, are seeking other ways to allow its players to supplement their incomes. Collier's India discussions have perhaps carried most importance in openly displaying a willingness to negotiate a better deal for England's players as they make their impatience clear about their exclusion from such a high-profile tournament.
There appears to be little scope for the IPL finishing before the end of April for the next three years. The World Twenty20 in Bangladesh is scheduled to run from March 16 to April 6 in 2014, with the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand likely to run from February until the end of March 2015 and the World Twenty20 of 2016 scheduled to run in India until mid-April.
While some have suggested the IPL could be shortened by scheduling three games per day, it seems unlikely that the BCCI would accept the subsequent reduction in advertising and sponsorship revenues.
ESPNcricinfo understands that tentative exploratory talks have also taken place with a view to the ECB being compensated for discontinuing one of their May Tests in return for allowing players to participate in the IPL. Such a move would bring the ECB into dispute with its broadcast partners, however, and so would be unlikely to happen in the short term.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo