BCCI set to unveil plans for international Twenty20 league
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is all set to unveil plans for its own ambitious international Twenty20 league in Delhi on Thursday. Although plans for this league are believed to have been underway for several months, the announcement, expected to be made by Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, comes in the wake of the formation of the Essel Group's Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Top cricket board officials from India, Australia, England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will meet in Delhi to thrash out the preliminary details of the proposed league, which is expected to kick off some time in the second half of 2008. They will then make their plans public in the afternoon.
The BCCI working committee, which has refused to give official permission to the ICL to conduct its Twenty20 tournament and is taking strong measures against players aligning with the ICL, also meets in Delhi tomorrow. The working committee is expected to deliberate on this new league and ratify proposals that are submitted.
Recently Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the BCCI, Inderjit Singh Bindra, president of the Punjab Cricket Association and Ratnakar Shetty, the chief administrative officer of the board, made a unpublicised trip to Singapore where they met with representatives of the Australian, English and South African boards to finalise the details. James Sutherland, chief executive of Cricket Australia, is learnt to have played a vital role in giving final shape to the event.The International Management Group (IMG) will play the role of event managers and handle the organisational aspects of the league.
While BCCI officials, notably Modi - the man believed to be the brains behind the official pro-20 league - have revealed absolutely nothing on the matter, it is widely expected that the league will be played in a two-tier format. There will be teams competing in leagues in Australia, India and England, which will include players from all over the world, and the cream of these teams will take part in an international league. The critical question before the organisers, though, is the availability of players. While countries like Australia and England have clearly defined seasons and off seasons, India's players are occupied throughout the year, and the participation of the big names from India is crucial for the financial success of the venture.
It is believed that the BCCI is keen to put its plans for the ambitious tournament out in the open before the ICL gets its games underway. Several domestic teams have lost players to the ICL, although no big names, or players on the verge of India selection, have jumped ship.