Thursday, July 31, 2008

India to go ahead with Twenty20 League as scheduled

India will host the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League between September 29 and October 8, defying the game's world chiefs who want the tournament to be rescheduled.

"The event will go ahead as scheduled,"
top Indian cricket board official Lalit Modi announced here Wednesday after a meeting with representatives from the Australian and South African boards.

"The three boards have reached an agreement to stage the inaugural Champions Twenty20 later this year,"
Modi said.

"This would mark the introduction of a long awaited football-style Champions League format for cricket, which will pit the best-of-the-best clubs in domestic cricket globally against each other."

The venues for the six-million dollar league, featuring eight Twenty20 domestic sides from around the world, would be decided later, Modi said.

The tournament is sandwiched in the short 11-day gap between the Champions Trophy final in Pakistan on September 28 and the first Test between Australia and India in Bangalore from October 9.

The announcement is likely to upset the International Cricket Council (ICC) which had reminded its member countries on Tuesday that holding a tournament within seven days of an ICC event violated a playing agreement.

Modi said two teams each from South Africa, Australia and India will feature in the tournament.

"The decision on the remaining two teams will be taken shortly,"
he said.

England were originally slated to take part in the event but announced Tuesday that it wanted to stage its own version of the league in the United Arab Emirates on the same dates.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which opposes the terms and conditions laid down by the Indians, claimed that the Abu Dhabi royal family had agreed to bankroll their tournament.

Local media reports on Tuesday said India had turned down England's offer to send two teams for their event in the Gulf -- and also does not expect English sides to feature in their own tournament.

In a letter to the ECB, the Indian board wrote it "wished the ECB all the best" with its tournament but "unfortunately, we cannot accept" the invitation, reports said.

Talks between the Indian board and the ECB failed to resolve the issues of tournament rights and the availability of players who took part in the unauthorised Indian Cricket League (ICL).

India, the sport's financial powerhouse, wanted to retain a 50 percent stake in the tournament and would not allow teams that fielded ICL players from taking part.

Kent, one of the two teams set to represent England in the Champions League, has two ICL players in Pakistan's Azhar Mahmood and Justin Kemp of South Africa.

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