Twenty20 the future of cricket, says KP

Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 6:45 [IST]
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London: Kevin Pietersen is encouraged the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have met with Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire behind the domestic Stanford Twenty20 competition in the West Indies.

The ECB are reported to be looking at adding some Stanford-backed Twenty20 matches to the schedule for the tour of the Caribbean next year.

Those matches could help fill the gap before an English Premier League (EPL) comes into being.

England batsman Pietersen, speaking ahead of Hampshire's County Championship opener at home to title-holders Sussex on Wednesday, said: "Twenty20 looks like the way forward.

"It's a three-hour game with a winner, like football or rugby, and it is what spectators want to see.

"This is the way cricket seems to be going. I want to play more of it and get good at it. It requires different shots and a different way of playing.

"When it started it was all a bit slap-dash but it is turning into a game where it is being taken far more seriously.

"A lot of people have played more Twenty20 than me and it has a worldwide following now.

"Until I hear more about Stanford and his proposals I cannot comment, but it sounds great, very exciting for players and spectators."

All these potential changes to the cricket calendar have been sparked by the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL), which starts on Friday.

Essentially an Indian domestic Twenty20 tournament, the IPL's newly-created franchises, have lured some of the world's top cricketers to the sub-continent following a series of auctions for the sport's leading players.

However, the IPL clashes with the start of the English cricket season - where Twenty20 was pioneered as a professional game - and is likely to do so again next year.

Last week Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), said he couldn't see how their centrally contracted players would be released for the IPL, which takes place in the run-up to the Ashes 2009.

However, having confirmed on Tuesday their talks with Stanford, the ECB said it had "never stated that centrally contracted players are banned from IPL".

That will come as a relief to Pietersen who said it was "ridculous" of Clarke to suggest England players couldn't feature in the IPL.

Pietersen's Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas is the only England player involved in this year's IPL.


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