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BCCI plan Twenty20 tournament
24 Aug 2007
By: Richard Dickinson

The Board for Control of Cricket in India appears to be planning an ambitious Twenty20 venture along the lines of professional European football, involving domestic leagues in four different countries and an international super-league in addition. Cricket Australia is believed to be involved, and the project is expected to be overseen by the International Management Group (IMG), an international event manager.

According to details which first appeared in the Hindustan Times, IMG will meet board officials from the BCCI, CA, the United Cricket Board of South Africa and the England and Wales Cricket Board to formalise a domestic league in each of these boards' countries. It is thought that clubs are to be able to hire players from anywhere and everywhere - including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The side which finishes atop each of the four leagues (likely to be called Professional Cricket Leagues) will then progress to a super-league, likely to be called the Champions Cricket League.

It is believed that Lalit Modi of the BCCI and James Sutherland, CA chief executive, have been planning the enterprise for several months, and that it is not a response to the recent gathering in momentum of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) set-up by Zee TV. Nonetheless, it is likely to provide the BCCI with a powerful vehicle to counter what had been looking increasingly like a threat to its grip on cricket in the country.

The operation has been kept under wraps until complete, with IMG officials having already made a presentation to Sharad Pawar, BCCI president, but not to the working committee. A CA spokesperson refused to confirm any details still: "All I can tell you is that Cricket Australia is not in a position to make a comment at this stage. We are regularly approached by all sorts of people who have exciting ideas. We're always keen to look at these ideas and see what's possible," he said. "Until we have ink on a contract we don't believe in making public statements. On this issue it would be more appropriate if you spoke to the BCCI."

The idea is that corporates can buy a franchise at auctions held in each country, then a staff of 15-20 players for it, with a top limit on transfer fees. It is likely to result in greater employment opportunities for cricketers, plus coaches, physiotherapists, Umpires, scorers and other officials.

Absolute confirmation from any party, however, remains to be given.

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