Million-dollar Twenty20 Champions League announced
The inaugural Champions League tournament, involving the domestic Twenty20 finalists from England, Australia, South Africa and the IPL, will take place over a 10-day period in late September and early October with US$5 million on offer for the winners.
The fine detail is yet to be confirmed, but Cricket Australia are currently drawing up the regulations which will deal with the issues of Indian Cricket League players and potential conflicts for players involved with more than one team.
It is possible that the Indian board will be generous towards ICL players after the success of IPL. It was also agreed, verbally, between the boards that foreign players will turn out for their local teams in the tournament. That undertaking was sought by the England and Australia boards at a meeting in Singapore.
However, it has been confirmed the event will feature 15 matches over 10 days, and will take place in either the Middle East or India. Alongside the huge sum for the winners, there will be significant prize money for the teams finishing second, third and fourth.
Stuart Broad, the England quick bowler, is excited by the move. "It's certainly an incentive for domestic sides to take Twenty20 seriously which can only help the international team," he said after the third day's play against New Zealand. "I've always thought Championship cricket is the priority because it develops players for Test cricket and that's the ultimate. But this could change the emphasis."
Western Australia and Victoria from Australia, Rajasthan and Chennai from the IPL along with the Dolphins and Titans from the Pro20 in South Africa have already qualified. They will be joined by the two finalists from the English Twenty20 Cup, which starts next week.
Following meetings late last week between the ECB, represented by chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier, Cricket Australia's chairman Creagh O'Connor and chief executive James Sutherland, an agreement was reached yesterday between Clarke, IPL commissioner and BCCI representative Lalit Modi, and Cricket South Africa president Norman Arendse.
"We are extremely grateful to our great friends from Australia, India and South Africa for their hard work and determination to get this tournament off the ground," Clarke said. "The Twenty20 Cup will be even more fiercely contested this season in the knowledge that the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the Champions League and the chance to win US$5 million."
This event throws up a number of potential conflicts, not least involving an players linked to the unofficial ICL. Chris Read, Vikram Solanki, Stuart Law, Niall O'Brien and Paul Nixon all appeared in the ICL, and if their counties qualify their inclusion will be a major conflict with the Indian board.
The other issue that will occur is involving players who are contracted to more than one of the teams involved, for example Mike Hussey who played for Chennai in the IPL and is also from Western Australia. The clash could also happen with overseas players in county cricket, for example David Hussey, who plays for Nottinghamshire and Victoria.
Somerset chief executive Richard Gould admitted to Sky Sports News: "We've already had some discussions and we're basically looking to mirror what the IPL contracts are. It was first mooted at the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa and it's taken a while but now it's there, I think it's brilliant for club cricket. It gives it much more juice."