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MCC in talks to join the IPL riches

The Marlyebourne Cricket Club is speaking with a consortium to buy a new franchise at the upcoming auction in March.

DUBAI // MCC, once considered a stuffy bastion of conservatism, are exploring the possibility of joining the Indian Premier League (IPL), cricket's cash-rich Twenty20 league. The Lord's based-club, who are currently conducting experiments in the UAE with the aim of arresting the dwindling interest in Test cricket, have confirmed they have held discussions with a consortium looking to buy one of two new IPL franchises. The successful bidders set to be announced on March 7.

Keith Bradshaw, the secretary and chief executive of the club, said: "The concept of MCC involvement in the IPL is something I believe is worthy of thorough investigation, and something we'll take to our committee for their deliberation." Bradshaw has been in India for fact-finding talks with the potential consortium and IPL officials. According to a study published in India's Economic Times, the IPL's brand value has doubled in the past 12 months, to US$4.1 billion (Dh15b). As a result, the next two additions to the league are likely to command a fee far in advance of the base price of $22million (Dh826m), which was set when the bidding process began earlier this week. The eight-franchise tournament will expand to 10 next year, with an eight-year moratorium on new franchises likely to be imposed after the latest ones are announced.

Bradshaw added: "MCC has a proud history, and is respectful of the game's traditions. We would not pursue a path that we believed was contrary to the best interests of the sport or to the future health of Test match cricket. "Undeniably, the game is changing. MCC, as an innovative, independent cricket club, wants to be at the heart of that change." The boom in the 20-over format has been seen as a threat to five-day Test cricket, but MCC remain committed to the longest format of the game.

Last night, an MCC touring side continued the experiment of using pink cricket balls and white clothing, under floodlights at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. The match, against a local select XI, is the next step in an experiment to decide on the viability of staging floodlit Test matches. It is hoped later start times would help bring back some of the crowds lost to the T20 game. Meanwhile, Australia's top players may yet be a part of the forthcoming IPL campaign, after their Cricketer's Association (ACA) chief announced progress had been made with regard to their security concerns. @Email:pradley@thenational.ae

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