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Maxwell insists USA T20 on track

Martin Williamson

December 4, 2012

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Neil Maxwell, the man behind next year's professional USA T20 competition, has told ESPNcricinfo that despite gathering disquiet he is confident the inaugural tournament will take place next July.

Maxwell, director of Cricket Holdings America LLC (CHA), a joint venture formed in 2010 between New Zealand Cricket and the USA Cricket Association for the development of cricket within the USA, said that talks were ongoing with cities about hosting franchises and investors wanting to buy into them.

"In a project this size there will always be delays," he said. "There are protocols which have to be overcome but we have now done this and are talking to interested parties."

Reports had been circulating that attempts to find franchisors had floundered because of the amounts being demanded - stories of $40 million price tags had been touted - but Maxwell said this was not the case. One meeting held in Chicago in early September failed to attract interest and one of those present said valuations were unrealistic, saying he "did not believe that the USA commercial cricket market justified anything near this figure".

"These are just bits of the story. It's a complex financial model but the sums are not anywhere near those being quoted. The initial investment is paid over ten years, and even then there are a range of grants to offset against this. The franchises are in perpetuity and after that investment there is just a small annual licencing fee."

He said that he hoped the process would be finished by February at which time players and boards would be approached. "But it's a massive project and the priority is for us to push out a good product."

Asked about comments from USACA president Gladstone Dainty that the bulk of the players would not be top international stars but would be from Associate and Affiliate countries, he said that while those players would certainly be a key part of squads, "the emphasis is still on top international cricketers".

Maxwell said the initial tournament would be a slightly scaled-down version involving six franchises - "which will give them a chance to bed in" - with others rolling out on the back of that in subsequent years into a more familiar league structure.

He also confirmed that in the first year it was likely that matches would have to be played on artificial pitches, adding that "five or six sites" were being looked at.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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Posted by SirViv1973 on (December 4, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

There is no appetite in the US for cricket other than in the Asian and West Indian ex pat commuities. Should this ever get off the ground I don't think it will last for more than a year as I doubt the franchises will be able to afford the sort of contracts which will be able to attract enough big names.

Posted by ARad on (December 4, 2012, 14:23 GMT)

I'll predict that Sanath Jayasuriya will play in this league. I also predict that he would play in this league until he is of WG Grace's retirement age or the end of the league, whichever comes first.

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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