Dec 13, 2008

Sport - Cricket;Inaugural Twenty20 Champions League called off

Shrinivas Rao

MUMBAI: The Twenty20 Champions League has been cancelled and all those who were gearing up to be a part - the eight teams, four cricket boards, br
oadcasters, telecasters, sponsors, advertisers and of course the organizers - will now have to wait for another year for the tournament to see the light of day.

Officials from Cricket South Africa, Cricket Australia and CL chairman Lalit Modi had a teleconference on Friday where the decision was reached. "We are very disappointed but the reality is that the ICC’s Future Tours Program (FTP) just doesn’t have a gap (to accommodate the event)," Modi told TOI.

The founding boards discussed each possible window available.

The idea of tweaking the ODI series between SA and Australia was considered but that clashed with Australia’s domestic tournament, something the CA wasn’t willing to compromise on. The T20 Cup in Australia, involving six state teams, is scheduled to be played between Dec 26 and Jan 24, something that CA cannot avoid keeping the interests of domestic sponsors in mind.

In February, if India doesn’t travel to Pakistan as scheduled, that space could have been utilized. However, as tournament director Dheeraj Malhotra explained, "A formal decision on the India-Pak series hasn’t been made as yet and we had a deadline to decide. We couldn’t have waited to see if India’s tour to Pak is going ahead or not."

The participating teams will change next year, with the eight teams scheduled to take part in this year’s event having lost their chance. The finalists of next year’s respective domestic T20 events will now qualify.

Western Australia and Victoria from Australia (finalists of the KFC Cup), Dolphins and Titans (top teams from South Africa’s ABN-Amro T20 tournament), Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings (IPL finalists) along with two visiting teams Middlesex and Sialkot Stallions (winners of England and Pakistan’s domestic T20 tournaments) were scheduled to take part this year.

"Whichever teams qualify next year will now be a part of the tournament," Malhotra said.

It was mutually decided between all parties concerned, broadcasters ESPN (who have a $975m contract going for ten years) included, to schedule it for next year.

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