Thursday, August 7, 2008

Champions League organisers explore date shift

The three founding partners of the Champions Twenty20 League - the BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) - are exploring the possibility of shifting their tournament to December following a request from the ICC given a clash of dates with the Champions Trophy, Cricinfo has learnt. The Twenty20 tournament is due to begin on September 29, the reserve day of the Champions Trophy final.

It's understood that the organizers are now looking at holding the tournament in India from December 2-11, between the India-England one-day series and Tests.

'League does not violate ICC agreement'

  • Shashank Manohar, the BCCI president-elect, reiterated the Indian board's official position while speaking to reporters in Mumbai that the Champions Twenty20 League does not violate the ICC's playing agreement, which was signed by all members.

    "At the meeting, the BCCI, CA and CSA took a firm stance that holding the Champions League does not violate the clauses of the Members Playing Agreement," Manohar said. "Creagh O'Connor [the Cricket Australia chairman] said that seven days should be given to the BCCI, CA and CSA to discuss whether the dates could be rescheduled. We have to inform ICC about this after a week."

    Asked about the possibility of the Twenty20 tournament being postponed, Manohar said, "If it gets postponed, it goes after the Australia series (in October). Everybody is keen to hold it before March as the second edition of the IPL will be played in April and this year's top two teams will lose their chance of playing in the tournament."

An ICC press release, issued after the board held a teleconference on Wednesday to discuss the overlap, said the three members had offered to "explore, with the ICC's management, the scheduling of the tournament". The three members, it added, will report back to the governing body within seven days.

While the three boards stuck to their stand of last Wednesday - that the Champions Twenty20 League involves domestic teams and does not violate any ICC agreement - it is understood that they are also "aware of, and understand, the concerns" expressed by the ICC over its one-day showpiece being overshadowed.

"We have 10 clear days in December to host the Champions League, and there is a good chance of the event being held then," a senior official involved with the tournament told Cricinfo. "But we will actively pursue this possibility only if all other details, including logistics and players' availability, fall into place. Otherwise, we will stick to the dates that have already been announced because we are not legally bound in any manner to change them. Having said that, we understand the ICC's predicament. The ICC has signed a significant contract with ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) and the Champions Trophy is their first big tournament."

The official said that the ICC's request will be "looked into seriously" by the three boards especially given the broadcasters' concern that the Champions Twenty20 League would overshadow the Champions Trophy in terms of profile and advertising revenue.

"There is already a threat to the ICC Champions Trophy over the issue of players pulling out due to security concerns and we are not very keen to add to those worries," the official said.

The ICC's international schedule confirms that players from Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, who form a chunk of the eight teams for the Champions League, are free during the "window in December". However, it will still be a tight call - three international series, involving four of the countries sending teams to the Champions League, end on December 2 . South Africa will be most hard-pressed - they finish a Test series at home on that day, and ten days later begin a Test series against Australia in Perth.

The Champions Twenty 20 League comprises the Twenty20 domestic finalists from India, Australia and South Africa, Pakistan's winner Sialkot and England's champion Middlesex.