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Page last updated at 18:45 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 19:45 UK

ECB hopes for Twenty20 compromise

Kent winning the 2007 Twenty20 Cup
Kent won the 2007 Twenty20 Cup, but have two ICL players

The England and Wales Cricket Board is confident Middlesex and Kent will be allowed to compete in the new Twenty20 Champions League tournament.

The ECB has been warned English sides will be frozen out if they fail to adhere to rules on player eligibility.

But ECB chief executive David Collier believes a compromise will be reached.

"I would be bitterly disappointed if all four nations aren't represented by their two top teams," he told BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday.

Organisers of the Twenty20 Champions League say teams will only be allowed to take part in the multi-million pound event if they do not use players who have featured in the rebel Indian Cricket League.

Middlesex, winners of Saturday's Twenty20 Cup, do not have any ICL players in their ranks, but Kent, who were runners-up, do, namely Azhar Mahmood and Justin Kemp.

At present, the ECB has said it is unwilling to give its backing to the Champions League in its current format.

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It says it is unhappy with several aspects of the proposal, including the ban on ICL players, which might prove unworkable in England because of existing employment legislation.

Another sticking point is the number of overseas players teams are allowed to field. Some countries permit more, others less. That, says Collier, is unfair.

The ECB is also understood to want a greater say in the running of the Champions League and a bigger financial stake in the competition.

"It is quite complex," said Collier. "We will be discussing with our counterparts in Australia, South Africa and India to try to iron out the last few items within the rules and regulations.

"We've got three or four areas to resolve but we're confident the Champions League will take place in September/October."

The ECB's stance has not gone down well with Lalit Modi, one of the driving forces behind the Champions League and the vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

He is remaining firm on the ICL issue saying the tournament could go ahead without any English teams taking part.

"We have everybody on board going forward, apart from the ECB, who have some reservations in terms of structure and ownership," he told Radio 5 Live.

"We hope the ECB will be part of it, but if they are unreasonable or unable to adhere to the rules and regulations of the tournament then it will be unfortunate but they will not be able to participate.

"We have a final meeting with our members in Bombay on Wednesday and hope to make an announcement then. We will go ahead, with or without the ECB."

The popularity of Twenty20 cricket has soared since its inception in 2003, prompting a glut of tournaments on the domestic and international calendars.

As well as the IPL, ICL and Twenty20 Cup, England have agreed to play five lucrative Twenty20 matches in the Caribbean over the next five years after signing a deal with Texan-born businessman Sir Allen Stanford.

A new Twenty20 English Premier League is to start in 2010, too, while there are plans for a rival to Modi's Champions League competition.

Modi is unconcerned that the calendar may become too congested.

"There are many cricket tournaments that take place around the world - the ECB have another one with Stanford - but each one caters to a different market," he said.

"Does Stanford help or hinder us? Neither of the two.

"He is doing something to develop cricket in his part of the world and he has a concept in place where his team plays English teams and the winner takes all.

'I'm sure they'll have a market for it and it may be appeal to certain fans around the world. But, at the end of the day, we welcome competition.

"I would welcome the EPL, too. Most countries are going to be launching some sort of domestic Premier League concept. Our concept is very different to what is being proposed by the ECB."


see also
Middlesex win thrilling Cup final
26 Jul 08 |  Counties
England bag 50m Twenty20 bonanza
11 Jun 08 |  Cricket
New-look English Twenty20 agreed
16 Jul 08 |  Counties
Gloucestershire defy IPL chiefs
13 Jun 08 |  Gloucestershire


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