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Cricket Champions League unveiled

Kent win the 2007 Twenty20 Cup
Kent won the 2007 Twenty20 Cup in England

Four major national governing bodies have unveiled plans for a Twenty20 Champions League tournament.

The authorities in England and Wales, India, Australia and South Africa have set up an eight-team event over 10 days with a 2.5m cheque for the winners.

Such rewards are unprecedented in English cricket, where most counties make a loss and rely on funding from the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The tournament will be in India or the Middle East starting in late September.

The announcement comes after discussions between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Cricket Australia, the Board for the Control of Cricket in India and Cricket South Africa, and is inspired by the success of the Indian Premier League.

English cricket will be represented by the two finalists from the ECB Twenty20 Cup, which takes place on 26 July.

We'd like to think the winners of each of those competitions can play off on an annual basis

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland
They will line up against India's Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, Western Australia and Victoria, and the Titans and KwaZulu Natal Dolphins from South Africa.

"The ECB Twenty20 Cup will be even more fiercely contested this season in the knowledge that the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the Champions League," said ECB chairman Giles Clarke.

Australia's international cricketers will not be available for the inaugural tournament later this year, however, due to touring commitments.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said Ricky Ponting's team are committed to playing in the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, which runs from 11-28 September, and a four-Test tour of India during October and early November.

"I think leading into the Test series which starts in the first week of October, it is unlikely that any of our Test players are able to play," Sutherland said.

Sutherland added, though, that he hoped the competition would become an annual event.

TMS blog
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
"Obviously each of those four countries have a domestic Twenty20 competition each year, and we'd like to think the winners of each of those competitions can play off on an annual basis."

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew believes many questions need answering.

"What about England's one-day cricketers, as they will be unavailable for almost all of the domestic Twenty20?

"Would Peter Moores release them, and, if so, what effect would that have on their county team?

"And where are the other countries like the West Indies, New Zealand and Pakistan?" he added.

"In fact, is this the first split between the haves and have-nots?"

This year's Twenty20 Cup starts on Wednesday.




see also
Indian cricket bonanza is massive hit
02 Jun 08 |  South Asia
Warne's Royals win inaugural IPL
02 Jun 08 |  Cricket
Talks continue on England series
19 May 08 |  Cricket
England close to Twenty20 revamp
25 Apr 08 |  England
But is it really cricket?
22 Apr 08 |  South Asia
How will the IPL change cricket?
17 Apr 08 |  Cricket
Counties in India's shadow
15 Apr 08 |  Counties
Kent edge Twenty20 Cup thriller
04 Aug 07 |  Counties


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