<
>

English teams still in fray for Champions League

Cornelius de Villiers bowls Rory Hamilton-Brown Global Cricket Ventures-BCCI

The Champions League Twenty20 has not ruled out the participation of teams from England but will stick to its schedule of September 10-26, Lalit Modi, the tournament commissioner has said. Modi told Cricinfo that English teams were still in the fray and that N Srinivasan, a member of the league's governing council and BCCI secretary, was in talks with the ECB on the issue.

The participation of teams from England had been put in doubt after it emerged that the schedule, announced last week, would clash with crucial fixtures at the end of the English season. England will be playing Pakistan in an ODI series at the time, the final two rounds of the County Championship will be on as well as the semi-finals and final of the ECB40 competition.

Sussex and Somerset took part in the inaugural tournament last year in India, but further English participation this season was already in doubt after Lalit Modi, the league commissioner, said only days ago on his Twitter feed that two invites had been sent to the ECB, though the board maintained the offer wasn't official. Cricinfo now understands that the ECB has failed to accept the invitation within the stipulated deadline, though Modi's statement implies this will not be an issue. The final decision could be taken at the body's governing council meeting in March.

The ECB has so far declined to comment on this.

Though the dates for this season's edition have been announced the number and identity of participating teams has yet to be finalised, despite press releases from Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the Champions League itself stating that, like last season, 12 teams will take part from seven full member countries, including England; CSA also announced that they would be hosting the tournament this year, a statement immediately refuted by Modi.

Modi and other league officials insist that the final number of teams and their identity has yet to be confirmed. There might be more than 12 teams - one Champions League official told Cricinfo "at least 12 teams will play." There could also be a slight change to the schedule, depending on the teams and the shape of the tournament, though this will be announced in March.

The uncertainty over English participation keeps the door open for a Pakistani team to feature in the lucrative league, an issue that might become less complicated should the tournament be held outside India. Pakistan and Bangladesh are the only two Test-playing countries with no presence in the tournament. The PCB had a representative - the Sialkot Stallions - in the very first edition of the tournament, which was cancelled in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

As ties worsened between India and Pakistan and their cricket boards in the aftermath, the PCB wasn't eventually extended an invitation to the first tournament.