London:Organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) championship have approached cricket bosses in England for permission to stage matches at Lord's and Brit Oval cricket grounds, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The $1 billion IPL initial offers are being considered by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which administers Lord's, and Surrey County Cricket Club, the Times reported.
Although first season matches scheduled for April 18-June 1 will only be played in Indian venues, IPL is reported to be hopeful of staging what would be closer to exhibition matches in London after the inaugural championship.
Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon declined to confirm that the IPL is eyeing the Brit Oval, while a spokesman for the MCC said: "We are not making any comment on this story at the moment."
A suggestion that Hampshire county have also been contacted was denied by the club "although they would be interested in playing hosts," the newspaper said.
Hampshire's new captain Dmitri Mascarenhas is the only England county player in the IPL, having escaped an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ban on players from joining the Indian league, because he is not contracted to the ECB.
However, other stars such as all rounders Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood have not joined the league because of the ban, enforced because the IPL championship schedule clashes with the English county season.
The IPL move to host matches in England could be seen as a further threat to the domestic Twenty20 championship in the country that invented this form of the game.
Surrey's Sheldon said: "We are at a pivotal moment in the history of cricket. It is inevitable that the franchise system will explode internationally sooner rather than later and we want to be in pole position to exploit the potential of that with our wonderful ground and geographical location.
"We do not want a breakaway situation. We will see what the ECB come up with in rescheduling our own Twenty20 and we hope it will involve franchises. That would be the biggest commercial opportunity that we might be able to exploit. We are open-minded about discussions with people who are potentially going to push this forward."
Meanwhile, outgoing Hampshire skipper and Australian spinner Shane Warne praised the IPL, saying it will boost global cricket.
"It is not a case of putting the IPL before my county. Yes, I am excited about coaching and captaining the Rajasthan Royals and I believe that the IPL will give a huge boos to cricket worldwide. I am giving it my full commitment," he said in a column published in the Times.
Indo-Asian News Service