Global T20 Canada, a Twenty20 league scheduled to be played in Toronto between June 28 and July 15, made headlines last week after it emerged that the inaugural season would feature Steven Smith and David Warner, who are serving a one year ban for ball-tampering imposed by Cricket Australia.
So who owns this league? Is it sanctioned by the ICC? Why are some of the biggest contemporary cricketers participating in this league? Read on to find out.
Who owns Global T20 Canada?
The league is owned by Mercuri Canada Limited, an offshoot of Mercuri Talent Management, run by Sriram Bakthisaran, an Indian entrepreneur. Mercuri has signed a Master License Agreement with Cricket Canada to own and operate the league for 25 years. ESPNcricinfo understands that in 2011, Bakthisaran and the Cricket Canada administration at the time had signed a letter of intent to operate the T20 league, but it did not get off the ground because the commercial proposal was not good enough.
Are there any investors supporting Mercuri?
Mercuri is the sole owner of the league currently. The company aims to rope in investors and is in talks to sell five of the six teams.
Has Mercuri or Sriram Bakthisaran been involved in cricket before?
Mercuri has diverse business interests. It promotes itself as a multinational conglomerate and an emerging player in technology, sports, media and entertainment domains with operations in the Americas, India and the Caribbean.
Mercuri Group facilitated sponsorship deals with different IPL franchises including Rising Pune Super Giant and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
It has also been associated with tennis and Formula 1. It had commercial deals to help Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan race in Formula 1.
How does Cricket Canada benefit from the league?
According to the agreement signed last November, ESPNcricinfo understands Mercuri will pay Cricket Canada an annual fee of USD 500,000 for the first year with an increment of USD 100,000 each year for the next five years. From the sixth year, Cricket Canada will get the stipulated fee or 10% of the gross profit, whichever is higher.
Mercuri has also given a commitment to help develop cricket talent at a grassroot level in Canada. Part of that endevour is providing more exposure to the Canadian national team by taking players overseas for training. As part of the contract, Mercuri will help 24 players travel in the first year. Mercuri would also partly sponsor Cricket Canada in setting up a High Performance Centre. All these investments are aimed at seeing Canada make the knockouts of the 2023 World Cup.
What is the advantage of holding the tournament in North America?
The large diaspora from the Indian subcontinent and the Caribbean makes North America an untapped cricket market. In its presentation to Cricket Canada, Mercuri stressed this passion on the streets has been kept alive by the expats, and could be harnessed for the growth of the game.
How many teams are there in the league?
Six: Toronto Nationals, Vancouver Knights, Edmonton Royals, Montreal Tigers, Winnipeg Hawks, and a CWI sponsored sixth team comprising second-string West Indies players.
In what capacity is the CWI involved?
The West Indies board is a partner that will assist Cricket Canada in the conduct of the tournament. It will be getting a fee for sending a team.
What is the prize money?
The total prize money is understood be USD 1 million, with USD 500,000 for the winner.
How much do top players stand to earn?
The marquee players will be paid USD 100,000 each. The remaining players were bought in the player draft held last week, with contracts ranging from USD 3000 to 90,000. All the contracts are for a year.
How many matches in the tournament?
Will the league be broadcast on TV or the internet?
There are two match slots: the first game will start at 11am and the second at 4 pm Canadian time. Some premium channels across the globe are in talks with the organisers and an announcement will be made shortly.
Does the tournament have anti-corruption cover?
Mercuri will make the payment for the anti-corruption and match officials that ICC will facilitate. The ICC has primarily given its approval to the league because of Cricket Canada and CWI's involvement.
Is there a clear window for the league?
Keeping in mind the climate in Canada, the best window is between June and August. The organisers will finalise a window for next year by October this year, keeping in mind the 2019 World Cup.
How many venues will the matches be played at?
Although three venues in Toronto were shortlisted, Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City has been confirmed as the host. It previously hosted a quadrangular series involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Canada in 2008. The venue has five pitches currently.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo