Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Indian Superstars Would Give Huge Lift to Franchise Cricket in England; Virat Kohli and Co Are Not Allowed to Play for Teams outside India to Protect Interest in the IPL but Their Popularity Will Be Crucial to New-Look T20 in 2020

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Indian Superstars Would Give Huge Lift to Franchise Cricket in England; Virat Kohli and Co Are Not Allowed to Play for Teams outside India to Protect Interest in the IPL but Their Popularity Will Be Crucial to New-Look T20 in 2020

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Cricket Correspondent

ENGLISH cricket will soon be PS1billion richer thanks to the new broadcast deal agreed last month but can they find a way to attract a billion more followers? Twenty20 will look very different in 2020. There will be eight citybased teams rather than 18 counties. Instead of Surrey and Middlesex, we are likely to have north London and south London.

Yet there is one thing missing. If ECB chairman Colin Graves and chief executive Tom Harrison could persuade their counterparts in India to let Virat Kohli and his fellow superstars take part in the competition, its profile would grow dramatically.

It is rare indeed for India's players to take part in tournaments outside their country. Batsman Gautam Gambhir and leg-spinner Piyush Chawla played Championship cricket for Essex and Somerset respectively in 2013 but in recent times the BCCI Indian cricket's governing body have effectively pulled up the drawbridge.

If India's best-known players like Kohli, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were allowed to play T20 elsewhere, they reason, it would dilute enthusiasm at home for the IPL.

The franchise-based T20 competition is the most lucrative of its type in the world and the BCCI would like to keep it that way. That means India's men are not cleared to play in competitions like England's Nat-West T20 Blast or Australia's Big Bash. England batsman Jason Roy, who played for Gujarat Lions in this year's IPL, told Standard Sport: "[Many Indian players] would love to come over here. Imagine Kohli or Dhoni playing here.

"The number of people who would want to watch them would be absolutely phenomenal."

Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive, agrees, pointing to the excitement generated by Dhoni's appearance in the "Cricket for Heroes" match at The Kia Oval in 2015. The charity fixture attracted a crowd of about 20,000.

"The Champions Trophy last month proved there was a huge amount of interest among British Asians in the stars of the Asian teams and the more we can do to bring them along with us into domestic cricket, the better," Gould said. …

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