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Dhoni, Kohli for scheduling favour: Butcher rues England’s ‘missed’ chance

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Mark Butcher feels the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) should have rejigged the schedule of the India Test series so that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) could get a bigger window to complete the Indian T20 League. 

The former England batsman said the ECB could have used the schedule rejig as a bargaining chip with the BCCI to get stars such as MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli to play The Hundred tournament.

“It’s a massive missed opportunity. The ECB very, very rarely… in fact, I would go as far in the last 10-15 years as to say never, have something that the BCCI wants or needs. And with The Hundred sort of floundering because of Covid and overseas players cancelling contracts, not being able to come, this year is a bit of a write-off. The ECB are absolutely desperate to make this work. They have to be, they have bet the house on The Hundred, but at every turn, it seems a greater power doesn’t want it to happen,” Butcher said on the Wisden Cricket Weekly podcast.

“And so for me, this was the opportunity where you’ll say, ‘Okay, we’ll bite the bullet. We get the wrath of English cricket fans anyway: they hate us because of The Hundred. They hate us because we’re seemingly ignoring them at every single turn’. So you say, ‘We’ll take it on the chin, they don’t like us anyway. We would do this for the BCCI on the proviso that we get Kohli, we get Dhoni, we get whoever we like, signed up for three years to play in The Hundred, starting 2022.’

The Indian T20 League was postponed with only 29 games completed after multiple franchises’ bio-bubbles were breached earlier this month. There are still 31 matches to be played, and the BCCI has been looking to squeeze them into a window between the five-match England Test series and the T20 World Cup.

There were reports that the BCCI had asked the ECB to advance the completion of the Test series by a few days but Ashley Giles, managing director of England men's cricket, has said that he wasn’t aware of any official request.

Giles added that ‘the matches will be where they are.’ However, Butcher said that the ECB should have utilised this rare ‘leverage’ with the BCCI to England’s advantage.

“You have leverage for the first time ever: you have something that they need, that they want," Butcher said. "Obviously, the BCCI will lose a lot of money if they don’t get the (Indian T20 League) in the window. You also have the extraordinary spectacle of the (Indian T20 League) being finished at the behest or because of English cricket. And you use that lever in order to get something you desperately need. So I think there’s an opportunity missed.

“I don’t know how realistic it [getting Indian players for The Hundred] would have been, but unless you dangle that Damocles over their throat, you are never going to know. If you say ‘Okay, we understand there’s a bit of a buy-in to it, and we understand and we want to help you and get the (Indian T20 League) done, however, this is the cost, this is what we want in return’. And if the BCCI says ‘No, we’ll rearrange it somewhere else’, it’s fine. You have nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

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Featured Image: AFP/ Manjunath Kiran

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