The priorities of the cricketing world are set to change. The hint of the changing order came when Sri Lanka Cricket agreed to release its players for the IPL even though it coincides with the island nation’s tour of England for a Test series.
The decision means either the tour could be postponed or cancelled or England could face a second-string Lankan team. In either case, the precedence of Test cricket would have been compromised.
This is startling for the International Cricket Council (ICC) and the member boards had decided that international cricket would take precedence over the IPL, just before it took off in April, during their executive meet in Dubai in March.
The IPL honchos too tried to assuage fears, assuring the league would not disrupt international cricket. Terms and conditions have been put in place which dissuade individuals from giving up international cricket to join the IPL. The most notable being the one that gives national boards the right to stop a player from featuring in the IPL until two years after his international retirement.
But it has taken just a few months for the stand to be breached. Interestingly, it's not an individual but one of the member boards to violate the 'agreement' and the IPL, on its part, has sort of endorsed it by offering a $ 40 million deal to the Lankan board for pledging its players for the tournament over the next decade.
Understandably, the ICC was less than pleased with the 'deal'. ICC chief David Morgan has been quoted as saying that the 'deal' was unacceptable. "Only last month, the ICC reaffirmed the primacy of Test cricket with the unanimous agreement of all Full Members," said Morgan.
The IPL, however, finds nothing wrong in the deal. "It's the internal matter of the Lankan board and we can't comment on it," said Niranjan Shah, vice-chairman of the IPL governing council.
But isn't it a case of undermining the primacy of Test cricket, something that every board agreed in principle to protect? "The Lanka-England series was not part of the FTP, so the Lankan board has the right to decide what suits them and their players better," said Shah.