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Australia join forces with the BCCI

Cricket's inaugural Twenty20 Champions League will take place in India this year after Australia sided with the sports major power over traditional ally England.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland met with officials from the boards of India and South Africa in Mumbai, where it was agreed the Champions League Twenty20 competition would take place on the subcontinent from September 29 to October 8.

However the tournament, which pits the worlds best domestic Twenty20 teams against each other in pursuit of $US6 million ($A6.31 million) prizemoney, is unlikely to feature any representative sides from England.

England was among the original participants, however a fall-out between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Indian board resulted in the ECB devising its own plans to stage a tournament in the United Arab Emirates, to be bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi royal family.

Cricket Australia had the option of sending its representative sides Victoria and Western Australia to play in the ECB event, but chose instead to stay with the original plan of India as host.

The Vics and Warriors will take on the two best sides from the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings, and the Dolphins and Titans from South Africa.

The ECB is likely to be given one last offer to consider taking part, but domestic sides from New Zealand and Pakistan are set to be called upon if the England board declines.

The Australian, Indian and South African boards agreed the tournament would feature eight teams in two pools of four, to play a total of 15 matches.

The ECB went its own way because of India's refusal to allow players aligned in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) - the IPL's rival - to take part in the Champions League.

Kent, one of England's best two sides, has two ICL-aligned players in their squad, in Pakistan's Azhar Mahmood and Justin Kemp of South Africa.

The Champions League is based on the model used in European soccer and officials are hopeful of expanding the competition to feature 12 sides playing 23 matches next year.

The Indian cities of New Delhi, Jaipur and Mohali have been mooted as likely host venues.

Sutherland said the new competition would give Australia's best state cricketers the chance to compete against their equivalents across the world.

"I am also delighted that the benefits of this global event will flow down to state level and enhance cricket at grass roots level," he said.

"I am certain it will add a whole new dimension to our own KFC Big Bash Twenty20 interstate competition and globally, will help us all in winning new fans for cricket around the world.

source - thewest.com.au
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