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Blues ready to focus on Champions League

While understandably keen to avoid propping up the Sheffield Shield table for back-to-back seasons, NSW have three million reasons to work on their Twenty20 game.

The Blues, winners of the domestic Twenty20 competition last season, and runners-up Victoria, will represent Australia in the 12-team T20 Champions League from October 8 to 23.

It's not surprising both state teams are enthusiastic about the event, which features a staggering first prize of $US2.5 million ($A3.0 million).

The inaugural T20 Champions League was scheduled to begin last year but was postponed following terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Cricket NSW chief executive David Gilbert says the Blues are satisfied that Cricket Australia is taking all the normal safety precautions ahead of a tour.

"We're comfortable with where things are at," Gilbert told AAP on Thursday.

"It's huge. The first prize is $US2.5 million, runner-up is $US1.3 million.

"It is pretty much 10 times what the winners of the Sheffield Shield get.

"To win the Champions League, you are going to play a maximum of six games. Each player stands to come home with about $US100,000 each.

"It has been a major focus of our pre-season. There's no point denying it."

The Blues start their domestic season with a one-day game against Western Australia at North Sydney Oval on November 1 while Victoria have a Shield game at Adelaide Oval on October 30.

"It's certainly going to be a massive tournament. Across the Asian sub-continent it is creating huge excitement," Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide told AAP from Melbourne on Thursday.

"After the disappointment last year of having to abandon the tournament, now it's hard to whip up some excitement here in Australia when we are in the middle of football finals.

"But it's going to be a really high-profile world competition.

"Our boys are very motivated to be the first club champion of Twenty20 cricket."

Gilbert and Dodemaide said the tournament was important for state players seeking Indian Premier League T20 contracts and also pushing their claims for next year's T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

"The players are very very focused on this tournament for the financial rewards and also for the opportunity to put themselves in the shop window for a possible IPL contract," Gilbert said.

"There's a television audience in the hundreds of millions. So it really does put the NSW cricket side on the world stage.

"We're going in very confident."

Simon Katich's Blues boast Brett Lee and Nathan Bracken but will be without recruit Shane Watson, while wicketkeeper Brad Haddin is in doubt with a broken finger.

All-rounder Watson, a former IPL player of the tournament, only crossed to NSW from Queensland in the off-season.

Brendon McCullum, who represented NSW in the BigBash final last summer, has opted to play with his Kiwi provincial side Otago in the Champions League.

Victoria will have a strong squad led by Cameron White, although they'll be without left-arm quick Dirk Nannes who has been purchased by his IPL team the Delhi Daredevils for the transfer fee of $US200,000 ($A240,000).

Former Australian stars Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds are lining up for Indian team Deccan Chargers while Glenn McGrath plays for Delhi.

source - brisbanetimes.com.au
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