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Bumpy road ahead for Champions League

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
 
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London: Many in cricketing fraternity were expecting to see some operational issues when Cricket Australia decided to form a Twenty20 league, which will see top-two domestic teams from top cricket-playing countries lock horns for Champions League title.

The Twenty20 bashers--who can be called as purists as well, who hate the ultra abridged version of the game--got a happy news as English counties reveled that they are in no mood to oblige BCCI vice president Lalit Modi's diktat and leave out players who have been part of the Zee Sports-owned Indian Cricket League (ICL).

Modi warned the counties that teams with ICL players could be ousted from the 2.5 million pound tourney starting on late September and the clubs are ready to challenge Modi's warning.

A spokesman of Lancashire, which has ICL player Lou Vincent in the ranks, told The Times that in absence of any clear instructions from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the position was quite unclear.

"If it is upto Cricket Australia to come up with rules and regulations, then maybe they would like to get a wiggle on because this thing is about to start. Our priority is winning the Twenty20 Cup, which means picking our strongest team, including ICL players," he said.

"If we get to the final, it will be up to the tournament organisers whether we play in the Champions League. If they do not want to see Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson out there, that is up to them," he said rather sternly.

Of the counties, only Essex, Middlesex and Somerset don't have any ICL players in their ranks and Modi has already thundered that teams with 'rebel' cricketers would be ousted from the tournament and no exceptions would be made for anyone.

Modi's warning has created a dilemma in county cricket, which features more than 20 such rebel players, including Justin Kemp (Kent), Murray Goodwin (Sussex), Andre Adams (Nottinghamshire), Dale Benkenstein (Durham) and Stuart Law (Lancashire).

One county chief executive was quite upset with ECB not clearing the air.

"You do not get guidance from the ECB, you get veiled threats in ambiguous statements," he grumbled.

ECB, meanwhile, maintained that Cricket Australia would draft the rules and regulations for the tournament and chairman Giles Clarke said counties should not have any dilemma about 'rebel' cricketers.

"It is entirely a matter for them how they pick their sides. We have explained things at length in a previous communique and there has been very clear correspondence from David Collier (the ECB chief executive)," he said.

Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell sounded in a bellicose mood and said, "I cannot believe that 15 counties will come to an agreement not to play ICL guys. We will pick our best team and get on with it."

Gus Mackay too had similar views and the Sussex chief executive said, "Unless we hear otherwise we will go out there to win the tournament with our strongest team."

Equally defiant was Durham chief executive David Harker. "Dale Benkenstein will be playing for us unless we are told explicitly that he must not. So far, we have not heard that," he asserted.

Agencies

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