Counties deny Modi trying to split English cricket


New Delhi/London : English counties Friday outrightly dismissed their cricket board chairman Giles Clarke’s allegations that Lalit Modi was trying to set up a parallel league in England which prompted the Indian cricket board to slap a second showcause notice on the suspended Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner.

Support TwoCircles

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) chairman Clarke, who is in Barbados for the World Twenty20, refused to divulge the contents of his e-mail to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Based on Clarke’s e-mail, BCCI sent a second chargesheet asking Modi to reply in 15 days. Modi is already facing the heat following the IPL controversy and has been charged with five counts of financial irregularties.

Clarke alleged that Modi had made proposals to representatives of the Test-match counties at a meeting in Delhi that were “detrimental to Indian cricket, English cricket and world cricket at large”.

It is alleged that in the meeting between Modi and three counties, he told them a city franchise scheme in England would be backed by the IPL. Colin Povey, the Warwickshire chief executive, Yorkshire’s chief executive Stewart Regan, and Lancashire committee member David Hodgkiss attended in the meeting.

Clarke alleged the meeting discussed a parallel IPL in England in which eight existing Indian franchises would bid for English counties. It was alleged that Modi proposed a deal in which IPL would guarantee each county a minimum of $3-5 million per year plus a staging fee of $1.5 million.

The allegations have infuriated the counties.

“Yorkshire’s chairman Colin Graves rejected any implication that Modi and his group had been involved in secret or destructive negotiations and insisted that Clarke had been given notes of the meeting,” The Guardian reported.

Graves, who also chairs a Test-match county pressure group which is pressing for an elite Twenty20 competition in England, rejected the accusations that the game could be about to be “hijacked”.

“This is totally overblown,” Graves said.

“It was a fact-finding mission. Lalit Modi did not put a proposition on the table. There were no secret proposals, no secret agenda, nothing underhand,” Graves said.

Regan, the Yorkshire chief executive, said the meeting was attended “in an educational capacity”.

“The success of IPL proves that cricket is a product people want to buy and sponsors want to get involved with. Those were the key learning areas we were interested in,” he said.

Revealing the threadbare of the meeting, Graves said there was a proper business discussion about how things might develop in the future, the sort of discussions that can benefit the whole of English cricket.

“Stewart Regan took notes of the meeting and forwarded them to all the Test grounds. I then passed those notes to Giles Clarke. Lalit Modi invited all representatives of the Test grounds to be his personal guests at the IPL final. We turned the invitation down as we were not in a position to discuss anything in detail.

“We have not been guaranteed anything, but if anybody puts anything on the table we will discuss it. We have nine Test grounds and only seven Tests a year. We have to find ways to fill these grounds outside the England team. The nine Test grounds are united in the belief we cannot allow the status quo to continue,” Graves said.

A number of English counties have investigated links with IPL franchises as a potential source of income. Counties with Test-match grounds, and the MCC, have made no secret of their desire to find new sources of revenue to pay for heavy investment. They recently formed a working party to investigate a possible new tournament, but denied that they were looking at city franchises. This week, Clarke was reported as telling them to stop meeting unless all 18 counties were involved.

“There is no future in us creating another Twenty20 competition for all 18 counties. It is not attractive enough to fill the Test grounds. We have to create something new and exciting, a tournament with the appeal of IPL, a British version. We will continue to put these ideas to Giles,” Graves said.

Clarke, who has always been committed to an equal Twenty20 future for all 18 first-class counties, seems to have identified what he believes is his opportunity to retain control of the county game. All the signs were that he has hardened the resolve of the Test counties to press for a more radical future.

“By getting involved in the BCCI’s fight with Modi, his long-standing bitter enemy, Clarke has placed English cricket directly in one camp and firmly behind Srinivasan, the owner of the Chennai Super Kings,” said the British media.

BCCI secretary N. Srinivisan said: “The BCCI has issued the showcause notice to Lalit Modi based on an e-mail received from Mr. Giles Clarke, Chairman, ECB, informing the president, BCCI, about the activities of Lalit Modi, which are detrimental to Indian Cricket, English Cricket and World cricket at large.”