Tuesday, August 5, 2008

ICC board to discuss Champions Twenty20 dates

The ICC board will discuss on Wednesday the potential impact of the Champions Twenty20 League, which is being held from September 29 to October 8, on the ICC Champions Trophy that ends in Lahore on September 28.

The ICC's directors, Cricinfo has learnt, are expected to discuss over a teleconference whether the inaugural Twenty20 event would devalue their showpiece one-day tournament, especially since the league starts on the reserve day of the Champions Trophy final.

It's understood that representatives from BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA), the founding partners of the Champions Twenty20 League, will reiterate that their tournament does not involve national teams and so does not devalue the Champions Trophy "in any manner". They are expected to point to the tournament's 'domestic' label, which bypasses the ICC guideline that bars any international competition from taking place within seven days of an ICC event.

The ICC had last week indicated, in an email sent to its member boards, its displeasure over the staging of the Champions League immediately after the Champions Trophy. The governing body was acting on a letter it had received from ESPN-Star Sports, its official broadcaster, which had expressed concern over whether the Twenty20 tournament would devalue the one-day tournament. A day later, James Sutherland, the chief executive of CA, said in Mumbai that "the critical thing that needs to be understood [about the Champions League] is that it is a domestic competition, an invitational event, involving best teams from various continents and that distinguishes it quite significantly from international events and ICC events."

The ICC teleconference on Wednesday is expected to the "clear the air" over the issue, officials from the BCCI and CSA told Cricinfo.

"All our directors are committed to the principle of the primacy of ICC events and every one of them wants the ICC Champions Trophy to be a successful, premium-quality tournament," an ICC spokesperson said. "On that basis the directors will consider whether and if so, how, the proposed Champions League will impact on that desired outcome, given its proposed start date of September 29, the reserve day of the ICC Champions Trophy final."

Officials from the BCCI and CSA said they were sure that they would be able to "convince the board" about the Champions Twenty20 League during the teleconference.

"Of course, we are sure that we can convince the board that the Champions League will not affect the Champions Trophy in any way. It is a competition that involves domestic teams, and we are convinced that it does not impact or devalue the ICC Champions Trophy in any way," a CSA official said. "India, Australia, South Africa and Pakistan are of the same view in this matter," Niranjan Shah, the BCCI secretary, said.

The eight-team, 10-day Champions Twenty 20League comprises the Twenty20 domestic finalists from India, Australia and South Africa, Pakistan's winner Sialkot and England's champion Middlesex. The tournament ends on October 8, a day before the first Test between India and Australia is scheduled to start in Bangalore.