ECB announces £750m rival to the Twenty20 Champions League

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Middlesex were still contemplating their lucrative victory worth £42,000 for the winners, over defending Twenty20 Cup holders Kent on Saturday night, when news broke of a cataract of cash that is about to flood into this abbreviated form of the game.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that it has secured a £750m deal over 10 years for a rival Twenty20 Champions League which will accommodate both the English finalists.

The finalists of the English tournament had originally been lined up to take part in a proposed Twenty20 Champions League this autumn which the Indian board is behind.

But the Indians are adamant that because Kent fielded two players, Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood, who had participated in the outlawed Indian Cricket League earlier this year, they would be barred from the tournament, which was worth £2.5m to each team. No Middlesex player took part in that rebel event.

Speaking on BBC Radio yesterday Lalit Modi, chairman and commissioner of the IPL maintained India's hard-line stance: "If the ECB is unreasonable or not able to adhere to the rules and the regulations of the tournament it will be unfortunate, but they won't be able to participate." Modi later told Cricinfo in India that Kent would not be invited although Middlesex would be welcome, but that the ECB would have to make the final decision.

The ECB's event, backed by Middle Eastern investors, is scheduled to take place in Dubai or Sharjah in October and would guarantee a slot for both English finalists as well as teams from every senior Test-playing country. India would not be able to send any team over because of their Test series against Australia this year, but would be expected to take part in 2009.

Modi welcomed the rival Twenty20 tournament saying: "We wish them all the best and hope they succeed with it."

If the matches are anything like Saturday's final at The Rose Bowl in Southampton then they will provide powerful arguments for these incredible sums of money being pumped into the Twenty20 form of the game.

A thrilling climax, which saw Kent get to within three runs of Middlesex's record-breaking total for a final in this competition, guaranteed the winners a further £50,000 for taking part in the inaugural quadrangular Stanford Super Series in Antigua this autumn.

That series involves England, an All Star team sponsored by Texas billionaire Sir Allen Stanford and Caribbean Twenty20 kings Trinidad & Tobago. Middlesex could trouser a further £100,000 if they manage to beat Trinidad & Tobago, who are also guaranteed £50,000 for taking part, when the two teams meet.

As is the way with limited overs cricket the drama – and farce – was saved until the final over, bowled by South African Tyron Henderson, the world's leading wicket-taker in Twenty20 cricket with 73.

He had conceded six runs to fellow countryman and Kent batsman Justin Kemp off his first two balls. Kemp drove the third ball to long-on where Dawid Malan fielded the ball, spotted that the Kent man was just turning for a second so threw to the far end. Unfortunately, the ball swung like a banana away from the despairing Middlesex keeper Ben Scott and the fielders at the striker's end.

Australian Dirk Nannes gave chase and just prevented the ball from crossing the boundary rope, unfortunately his chase was slow enough to allow Kemp and his partner Azhar Mahmood to run four runs anyway.

Henderson said: "When Dawid Malan threw it, it swung miles and I thought, 'That is two million quid swinging out of our hands'."

Henderson conceded two more runs off the next ball, then delivered a slow yorker with the penultimate ball of the match which was a dot ball.

This left Kent needing a minimum of three runs to secure victory off the last ball. Henderson bowled a straight ball which Kemp could only drill back to the bowler. He set off for a single and Henderson ran him out by yards.

Earlier Henderson had set the tournament alight with a stunning display of power-hitting. He smashed seven sixes off the Durham attack in an astonishing 21-ball 59, and on the way to his half century he passed 1,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket. He added a further two sixes in a more subdued innings against Kent.

But Henderson was not the only big-hitter in the Middlesex armoury. Owais Shah thumped five glorious sixes in his 35-ball 75, the top score of the day, in the final, an innings which earned him the Man of the Match award.

Shah credited the Middlesex spinners with contributing massively throughout the tournament. One of those spinners, Shaun Udal, a Hampshire player for 19 years before joining Middlesex in the winter, was contemplating giving up the game. Udal said: "Two months ago I was retiring, because I didn't think anybody else would want me. I was resigned to playing a bit of minor counties and club cricket and spending the winter selling cricket helmets preparing for what came next. So to come back to The Rose Bowl to win the Twenty20 Cup is just ridiculous.

"I've got another year's contract at Middlesex. And who knows what the future holds? I could be the oldest IPL cricketer if anybody's interested."

Proposed tournaments: How Twenty20 takes up the next year

*Name: Champions League

Organisers: India and Australia
Date: 29 September to 8 October
Venue: Jaipur, New Delhi, Mohali
Teams: Two each from Australia, England, India, Pakistan, South Africa (but no team that features players who took part in rebel ICL tournament will be eligible to play – Kent therefore barred)
Cash on offer: Approx £2.5m per team

*Name: ECB Champions League

Organisers: England and Wales Cricket Board
Date: Early October (Dates to be confirmed)
Venue: Dubai or Sharjah, UAE
Teams: Two each from the Indian Premier League, South Africa, Australia and Middlesex and Kent
Cash on offer: £750m over 10 years

*Name: India Cricket League Invitation Cup

Organisers: ICL
Date: September to October (dates to be confirmed)
Venue: India
Teams: Eight franchises
Cash on offer: Unknown

*Name: Stanford Super Series

Organiser: Sir Allen Stanford
Date: 25-28 October
Venue: Antigua
Teams: England, Stanford Super Stars, Trinidad and Tobago, Middlesex
Cash on offer: £50,000 to Trinidad and Tobago, Middlesex, plus £100,000 for winner of their match

*Name: Stanford Super Series Winner-takes-all

Organiser: Sir Allen Stanford
Date: 1 November
Venue: Antigua
Teams: Stanford Super Stars v England
Cash on offer: £10m

*Name: ICL Twenty20 Indian Championship

Organisers: ICL
Date: November-December (Dates to be confirmed)
Venue: India
Teams: Eight franchises
Cash on offer: Unknown

*Name: Indian Premier League

Organisers: Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)
Date: 10 April- 29 May 2009
Venue: India-wide
Teams: Eight franchises
Cash on offer: £500m over 10 years

*Name: ICC World Twenty20 Championship

Organisers: ICC
Date: June, 2009
Venue: Various venues across England
Teams: Nine Test playing teams (Zimbabwe excluded) plus three qualifiers
Cash on offer: £1m (£300,000 to the winners)