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October 2, 2008
Twenty20 cricket is poised to take its next big step in 2009 with India, Australia and South Africa planning to play in the first-ever "super series", which is proposed to be held in two of those countries.
As the first non-ICC multilateral tournament involving national teams, this event will mark a paradigm shift for the sport's newest format but it faces several hurdles such as finding a window in an already crowded calendar, and negotiating the ICC ruling that allows a maximum of seven Twenty20 matches a year per country.
"It will be somewhat similar to the Tri-Nations rugby series," Gerald Majola, chief executive of Cricket South Africa (CSA), told Cricinfo. "It will be happening next year, and the matches will be held in South Africa and Australia."
However, organisers are yet to finalise a window for the tournament next year, he said.
The Tri-Nations rugby Cup is an annual tournament featuring South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, which was first contested in 1996. The competition is organised by a consortium formed by rugby's governing bodies in the three countries. The 2008 event involved nine matches with each country getting three home games.
Majola said the proposed Twenty20 series - which was finalised during discussions in Dubai recently on the sidelines of the ICC meeting of chief executives - will have a distinct identity of its own. "At this point of time, we are confident that it will take place but we haven't finalized venues, details of the prize money or sponsorship," he said.
The international calendar for next year is already packed with the Ashes and the World Twenty20 in England. These will be followed by the Champions Twenty20 League, and a one-day series between India and Australia. Space is yet to be found for the postponed Champions Trophy as well.
The Twenty20 format took off with the World Twenty20 in South Africa last year that was won by India, home of the largest television market for the game. It soon led to the franchise-based IPL, which offered a prize money of US$1.2million, and was held across eight venues in India earlier this year.
Subsequently, the Indian board took the lead in organizing the US$6million Champions Twenty20 League - to be held in India from December 3-10 - that will involve the domestic Twenty20 champions of India, Australia, South Africa, England and Pakistan.
However, concerns have been raised by the ICC over the need to have more control of such leagues, and Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain, even sought one annual tournament to avoid the game being taken over by its shortest format.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala