The announcement that there will be a Champions’ League Twenty20 tournament involving the two domestic finalists from England, South Africa, Australia and India was proudly trumpeted from Lord’s on Saturday.
It will be held in late-September and early-October, either in Dubai or India and the winning team will take half of the £2.5million prize money, with the remainder divided among the next three teams.
It certainly adds spice to the start of this country’s domestic Tweny20 Cup this Wednesday, but Giles Clarke, chairman of the England & Wales Cricket Board, was alarmingly vague when questioned about the small print and it seems as if a real Pandora’s Box has been opened.
Firstly, he revealed that the rules governing the tournament will be drawn up by Australia, with the most important ones stipulating who can play for whom, and who cannot. For instance, several counties have players who played in India’s so-called rebel Indian Cricket League, including Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, Yorkshire Sussex and Nottinghamshire.
Clarke says: “We know those players are not acceptable to India, and assume the Australian rules will take that into account.”
But what do those clubs do this week? If they pick disapproved players and reach our final, will they be allowed to play in the big tournament?
Clarke’s answer was a non-commital waffle. “The clubs concerned know our policy that was made clear to them last October.”
Yes, but should they not be told before this Wednesday the precise position?
“That is not possible.”
And what about players who are qualified to play for more than one side, like South African Morne Morkel who has played for two sides, one at home and for Yorkshire? There are several like him, including Andrew Hall, Justin Langer, Shane Bond, Justin Kemp and Naved-ul-Rana.
Again, there was no satisfactory answer from Clarke.
Keep your eye on the teamsheets this Wednesday and the smart money says that every club will pick its strongest side and argue it all out later when those Australian law makers issue the rules.
This is why trouble is brewing when the domestic Twenty20 Cup starts. Don’t think that cricketers such as Paul Nixon and Chris Read will accept any block on their chance to play for big money.
The ECB made veiled threats to ban “rebels’, and also to prevent England cricketers from accepting big offers, but Kevin Pietersen has forced a softening of an approach that is probably unenforceable.