Tough Indian stance set to undermine the T20 Champions League
Jun 9 2008 By George Dobell, Chief Cricket Writer
The Champions League could be ruined before it begins if Indian intransigence has its way.
The League, which was only formally announced on Saturday, stands to be fatally undermined unless the Indian cricket board (the BCCI) compromises its hard-line stance.
The main concern revolves around counties with players who have participated in the ‘rebel’ Indian Cricket League. As things stand, the Indian board is refusing to allow any county which has employed any player which has taken part in the ICL to participate in the League. Under the most harsh interpretation of the rules, only Essex, Middlesex and Somerset are eligible for the competition which offers a $5 million to the winners.
Any suggestion that Indian officials would moderate their stance were scotched by Lalit Modi, a vice-president of the BCCI and chairman of IPL.
“Any ICL player playing for any team automatically disqualifies that team from participating [in the Champions League],” he said. “No exceptions will be made under any circumstances.”
For Warwickshire and Worcestershire that is a harsh stance. While the captains of both teams, Darren Maddy and Vikram Solanki respectively, played in the ICL, they signed up for it before any objections were raised. To punish them retrospectively seems absurd.
As it that were not bad enough, Modi also suggested that IPL teams would have first choice of overseas players for the competition; a move that would surely further undermine the League’s credibility. For example David Hussey, who plays for two qualifying teams - Western Australia and Chennai Super Kings - will be obliged to play for Super Kings unless they release him to their rivals.
There is hope, however. It is the Australian cricket board that has been charged with drawing up the rules for the event and it remains to be seen if the other boards will agree to the Indian demands.
At present, however, the Indian stance threatens to undermine the viability of the competition. By excluding most English counties and loading the rules in favour of Indian teams they risk alienating a substantial portion of the very market to which they should be appealing. As it was set-up partly to combat the threat of ‘rebel’ leagues that would appear to a dangerous scenario and utterly self defeating from the BCCI’s perspective.
The competition, featuring the two best domestic Twenty20 teams from the IPL, Australia, South Africa and, supposedly, England, is scheduled to take place in late September and early October. The location is likely to be Mohali, in India, though Dubai could also be used.
Graeme Hick is no stranger to record breaking, but even for him the Twenty20 Cup match against Warwickshire at New Road will be a bit special.
It will be, subject to injury or inclement weather, Hick’s 1,196th competitive game of first-class (or equivalent) cricket. No-one has ever played more.
The fact the Warwickshire are the opposition is also somewhat ironic. Hick came for a trial at Edgbaston many years ago, but was not deemed worthy of further interest. With almost 64,000 runs behind him in all forms of the game, that’s not looking the most astute of decisions.
With Hick named in the Worcestershire side to play New Zealand at New Road on Wednesday(10.45am start), he is due to equal the appearance record at Cardiff on Sunday and break it in the game against Warwickshire next Tuesday. The previous record holder was Graham Gooch, with 1,195 appearances.
Ben Smith misses the game with an elbow injury. He will receive a cortisone injection and should be fit for the start of the Twnety20 programme. Simon Jones is rested for the New Zealand match.
The club have urged supporters to buy tickets in advance for all games as there will be no facility for anything other than cash sales on the day. The game against Warwickshire is also expected to be a sell-out.
Call 01905 337921 or visit wccc.co.uk for details. No alcohol can be brought into the ground..