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Lord's wants to stage neutral Tests
May 07, 2008 22:32 IST
Lord's may play host to neutral Test matches, it's first since the early 20th century, as part of an expanded programme of world-class fixtures stretching beyond England [Images] Tests and one-day internationals, according to The Guardian.
The idea is to help the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) fund a �200m ground-redevelopment project.
The MCC is also in advanced negotiations with the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Texan billionaire Sir Allen Stanford to bring top-class Twenty20 matches to the home of cricket as early as September.
MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw has just returned from India after visiting IPL franchises and holding talks with the league's commissioner, Lalit Modi, about the possibility of bringing the mooted Twenty20 Champions League to Lord's.
Stanford, who owns several companies in the Caribbean and already finances a Twenty20 event on the islands, had said last week that England needs its version of the Indian Premier League in place within two years or risks missing the boat.
"If the ECB do not get this programme in place by 2010 they have missed the boat. That is the latest they can possibly be," he said.
Pakistan and Australia had held exploratory talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board earlier this year about playing their scheduled Test series in England after Australia refused to go ahead with the tour on security grounds. The Pakistan Cricket Board was keen on playing at least one game at Lord's.
Those plans foundered because of scheduling clashes with the English season but Bradshaw, who will address the MCC's annual meeting on Wednesday, said he is committed to bringing the best matches to Lord's regardless of which teams are involved.
"It is our heartbeat to have major matches, so as well as our England Tests and ODIs we have to look at whether there is the potential to stage other sorts of cricket here such as neutral Test matches. We would be very open to staging neutral Tests and, in terms of embracing what's been mooted in terms of IPL, the Champions League or the English Premier League, why not? We have a very open mind.
"I have been very impressed by what I have seen of the IPL over the last few days and we have been on the front foot, making it clear that they would be most welcome at Lord's either for IPL matches or the Champions League."
The last neutral Tests in England were in 1912 when Australia met South Africa at Old Trafford, Lord's and Trent Bridge as part of a triangular series with England. The prospect of international sides such as India and Pakistan playing at Lord's could attract full houses and significant television and sponsorship revenues.