When representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and their English counterparts met in Mumbai on Nov 15, one of the central points of discussion was the ECB's demand for a place on the governing council of the Champions League. The league was conceived jointly by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa and the governing council of six has representatives of these boards but no place at the table for England. India have three representatives — Lalit Modi, N Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah, Australia two — James Sutherland and Dean Kino (head of legal for the league) and South Africa's Gerald Majola. England are keen to ensure that they are not left out.
While the spotlight was on the Indian board's request to shift the Ahmedabad Test by a day to December 12 — to allow Mahendra Singh Dhoni to play the final of the Champions League should his team make it that far — it was far from the only issue discussed. If the two boards can agree terms, much bigger things could be in the offing.
Lalit Modi has already indicated that there's little chance of the Ahmedabad Test being postponed by a day and sections of the ECB who have been pushing for the "primacy of Test cricket" to be preserved at all costs will be well pleased. But Giles Clarke and David Collier were talking to their Indian counterparts about a lot more than just shifting a Test match by a day.
A source close to the discussions told Hindustan Times from London that the November 15 Mumbai meeting was as much about future co-operation between the two boards as it was about finding a way to allow England's players to take part in the IPL, something that will pave the way for India's cricketers to play in a similar Twenty20 tournament in England. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff have already expressed their keenness to be a part of the IPL and England's players are reportedly holding off signing central contracts with the ECB till the IPL matter is sorted out.
The ECB has proposed that India and England play each other in five-Test series (now reserved only for Icon Series) home and away every two years, with ODI series of five matches thrown in for good measure. The International Cricket Council's current FTP cycle comes to an end in 2012, and the ECB has proposed that India and England play each other in this increased frequency from 2013 onwards. India and England have not played each other in a five-match series since the 1950s and the move will work well for England, who are one of the few countries who generate huge revenues from Test cricket.
However, the one issue that remains a thorn in the flesh is the participation of England's cricketers in the IPL. The ECB has told the Indian board that it had no problems with releasing its players to take part in the cash-rich Twenty20 tournament, but only if the tournament was completed in April. However India tour New Zealand for a five-ODI two-Test series early next year and will only return on April 8.