Champions Twenty20 League formally launched
The BCCI-backed Champions Twenty20 League has been formally launched with a commitment from the men in charge that it would give priority to the ICC's Future Tours Programme. The launch, which followed a meeting among top officials of the BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa in Mumbai, confirmed most details previously announced but left the tournament's venue yet to be confirmed.
In a curious twist, there was also a feeler sent out to England, which in recent days appeared to have fallen out with this version of the Champions League in pursuit of its own. The doors are still open for England to join, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi said, and he remained "positive" with regard to their participation in the US $6 million event.
The concession to the FTP allows Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden to play Australia's warm-up match from October 2 to 5 before the first Test against India begins in Bangalore on October 9. Hussey and Hayden are also part of the Chennai Superkings squad, one of the Indian teams in the Champions Twenty20 League.
"One of the regulations of the proposed Champions League is that all international players who have FTP commitments at that time are required to play international matches and not the league matches," Modi - who attended the meeting along with Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and Cricket South Africa's Gerald Majola - said. "There are one or two players impacted by that and those players will be excused from the IPL commitment."
In the new arrangement, Cricinfo has reliably learnt, Hussey and Hayden could conceivably play a few games for Chennai, then play the tour game for Australia, and return for the Champions Twenty20 League final if their team makes it that far.
There is still a question mark over the venue, however. Modi had earlier said the tournament would be held in Mohali, Delhi and Jaipur but that decision seems to have been put on hold. Instead Modi said he had no issue with a statement by IS Bindra, the principal adviser to the chief executive of the ICC, who said earlier this week that he would like the Champions Twenty20 League be staged in England because it would have "spectators from all different countries, multi-racial crowds for all teams, it is the most cosmopolitan place."
"Ideally we would like to conduct the games at the venues announced originally but there are offers from other people and the members decided to examine all the options and not to decide right now," Modi said. "September is a good time to be playing in England and I don't think any of the partners would have any objections to that."
Ironically, there is still no clarity over the participation of an English team in the tournament, though the issue was discussed at the meeting. Middlesex are England's Twenty20 Cup winners but if they reject the offer Modi said teams from New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies were willing to complete the eight-team line-up - currently comprising the top two domestic teams from India, Australia and South Africa, along with Sialkot, Pakistan's Twenty20 champions.
"We've extended an invitation to the Middlesex and we are hoping to hear positively from the ECB", Modi said. "We have always wanted this to be a global competition. England and the ECB have contributed to the game of cricket we would continue to endeavour to have England as part of the inaugural season of Champions League." The BCCI had rejected an offer from the ECB to join England's version of the Champions League to be held in Sharjah this October.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo