London: The England and Indian cricket boards will soon announce a ground-breaking agreement that will include an Ashes-like five-Test series.
According to The Guardian, the partnership is expected to take further shape at talks this month. It is also expected to lead to Indian Premier League matches being played in England.
India is expected to drop its objections to letting England players being available for only two weeks in the next IPL. England will also have a greater say in the future of the Champions League.
In the past 30 years, most series between the two countries have been for just three Tests and last month''s series was for only two. Increasing the number to five is a result of the much closer relationship between the ECB and the BCCI following England''s decision to return to play Test matches in Chennai and Mohali.
But the payback also follows intense negotiations between Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, David Collier, the chief executive, and the BCCI''s new president Shashank Manohar as well as its secretary, N Srinivasan.
A leading ECB official said yesterday: "First of all it was absolutely vital that we returned to India after what happened in Mumbai. We promised India that a team would go back, if possible the same team that was originally selected, but if not a bloody good team.
"There was a lot of hard work involved and some extremely complex negotiations to get the players back. Hugh Morris [the managing director of the England Cricket Board] was fantastic. But as a result of all the stuff we went through the two boards got to know each other a lot better and something more than mutual respect has emerged. Some serious friendships have been made, too.
"They did fantastically well in staging the two matches and preparing the pitches at the venues. We have come to understand each other''s positions – for example we can see exactly where they are coming from with the [rival] ICL [Indian Cricket League] – and as a result I think there is the possibility that the game can go forward in a number of areas. The possibilities are immense."
The ECB believes it is better placed than the Australian board to forge a lucrative partnership with the BCCI, which regards relations between the countries as "at its best phase ever".
Meanwhile, the ECB last night moved to play down reports that Kevin Pietersen, the England captain, had called for crisis talks with Giles Clarke over "irreconcilable differences" between him and the coach Peter Moores.