Wed, Jul 30, 2008 - Page 19 News List

India and England fight over T20 Champs

AFP , NEW DELHI

India and England were yesterday embroiled in an acrimonious tug-of-war over the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League, with both wanting to host it with or without each other.

The lucrative soccer-style League, featuring top Twenty20 domestic sides from around the world, is scheduled to be played between Sept. 29 and Oct. 8.

India insists it will host the tournament while England, which opposes the terms and conditions laid down by the Indians, wants to stage its own version in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the same dates.

Utter chaos prevailed in cricket circles yesterday as both sides claimed that teams from Australia and South Africa will take part in their respective tournaments.

India, buoyed by the success of the Indian Premier League earlier this year, said it will finalize details of its tournament at a meeting in Mumbai today with Australian and South African chiefs.

The northern cities of New Delhi, Mohali and Jaipur have already been announced as the possible venues in the US$10 million event, with half that amount going to the winners.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the Abu Dhabi royal family had agreed to bankroll their tournament to be held in the UAE capital and the adjoining emirate of Sharjah.

“At the moment we are progressing with our plans and we have no plans to travel to Mumbai and attend Wednesday’s meeting,” an ECB spokesman said in London on Monday.

Who plays where is undecided, although the original plans had the top two Twenty20 teams from Australia, England, South Africa and India taking part.

Local media reports yesterday said India had turned down England’s offer to send two teams for their event in the Gulf — and also does not expect English sides to feature in their own tournament.

In a letter to the ECB, the Indian board wrote it “wished the ECB all the best” with its tournament but “unfortunately, we cannot accept” the invitation, reports said.

Talks between the Indian board and the ECB failed to resolve the issues of tournament rights and the availability of players who took part in the unauthorized Indian Cricket League (ICL).

India, the sport’s financial powerhouse, wanted to retain a 50 percent stake in the tournament and would not allow teams that fielded ICL players from taking part.

Kent, one of the two teams set to represent England in the Champions League, has two ICL players in Pakistan’s Azhar Mahmood and Justin Kemp of South Africa.

Indian official Lalit Modi had said last week the Champions League was being put off to a later date, but appeared to change his mind after being told England were going ahead with their own tournament.

The tournament is sandwiched in the short 11-day gap between the Champions Trophy final in Pakistan and the first Test between Australia and India in Bangalore.

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