International Twenty20 league launched
Cricket entered a new paradigm on Thursday with the launch of an international Twenty20 competition that will feature teams, operated as franchises, and players from across the world. Called the Champions Twenty20 League, it will be run by four cricket boards - of India, England, Australia and South Africa -and will feature the top two teams from each of those countries.
Though no players were named as participants, several big names were present at the ceremony - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Glenn McGrath and Stephen Fleming.
The inaugural tournament is scheduled to start in October 2008 and is planned over nine days, with $5 million in prize money, including $2 million for the winners.
That the league has official sanction, as opposed to the Indian Cricket League, was borne out by the men on the dais - ICC president Ray Mali, Indian board president Sharad Pawar, the Cricket South Africa CEO, Gerald Majola, and Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland. The ECB was represented by deputy chief executive Hugh Morris.
While the teams from England, Australia and South Africa will be the top two teams of their existing Twenty20 tournaments, India's representatives will qualify through a new league called the BCCI Indian Premier League. This tournament, to be held in April 2008, will last for 44 days and involve 59 matches.
Each team in this league will have a minimum of 16 players, including four international players and four from the area where the team is based. The matches will be played on a home-and-away basis, guaranteeing seven matches at each venue. The matches will be played on Saturdays, starting at 5 pm India time and 8 pm. All matches will be televised and the rights to telecast these matches will be sold through a separate tender. No matches will be played concurrently.
The league will be run by a governing council comprising former Indian captains Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar, MAK Pataudi, BCCI office-bearers Rajiv Shukla and Chirayu Amin, Inderjit Singh Bindra, the Punjab Cricket Association president, and Arun Jaitley, the president of the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association. Lalit Modi, a BCCI vice-president, was named as its convenor.
Cricket Australia Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the new league would boost interstate cricket. Apart from giving the two state KFC Twenty20 finalists the chance to compete for the overall prize, it would expose interstate cricket stars to international competition and give fans of local state-based teams the excitement of supporting their favourite players on a global stage.