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Players irate at Twenty20 addition

The International Cricket Council decision to legitimise Twenty20 cricket has drawn immediate fire from senior Australian players and their union because of concerns over the ever-increasing workload.

The International Cricket Council decision to legitimise Twenty20 cricket has drawn immediate fire from senior Australian players and their union because of concerns over the ever-increasing workload.

The game's controlling body announced yesterday that the inaugural 20-over world championship would be squeezed into the playing schedule next year as an invitational tournament, with a mandatory championship event to be staged from 2009.

England has already been identified as a potential host of the 2009 event, with next year's invitational series likely to be held in September at a venue to be decided.

The news that cricket's novelty format was to become a serious money-making affair was met by a mixture of despair and frustration by players in Durban where they are preparing for the second Test between Australia and South Africa, starting tomorrow.

"We'll be pinning our hopes on the fact that India is refusing to play Twenty20 cricket, and it's difficult to see a world championship going ahead without the world's most popular team," one player said.

Due to fears that the arrival of 20-over cricket will diminish the appeal of the 50-over game, which is cricket broadcasters' biggest money-spinner, the influential Indian cricket administration has so far refused to participate in Twenty20 fixtures.

In order to gain co-operation from the Asian countries, the ICC has agreed to allow an extension for a joint bid to host the 2011 or 2015 World Cups from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Australia and New Zealand have already lodged a joint bid to stage that event, but the ICC has indicated that a compliant bid from the Asian block would virtually ensure it hosted the prestigious tournament in 2015.

By way of compensation, England (which has already bid to host the 2015 World Cup) would withdraw from the race and, instead, be granted the 2009 Twenty20 world championship.

Australian Cricketers Association chief executive Paul Marsh said yesterday that Twenty20 cricket should be retained as a means of generating interest in domestic cricket and attracting crowds to the under-resourced lower tiers of the game.
"The current international players are already at breaking point with regards to the volume of cricket," Marsh said.

"To introduce another event on top of the already ridiculously hectic schedule places further strains on our elite players."

ICC enthusiasm for a Twenty20 World Cup is driven by its desire to appease broadcasters by staging one major international tournament every year.

At present, the quadrennial World Cup is interspersed by the biennial Champions Trophy tournament (which will be reduced to an eight-team competition from 2008).

The game's governors had hoped that last year's Super Series concept unveiled in Australia could fill the scheduling hole, but it was such an underwhelming failure that is unlikely to be repeated.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland confirmed yesterday that the Test and limited-overs world champions would compete at next year's invitational Twenty20 tournament, but he added that Cricket Australia still held a "very cautious" view of 20-over international matches.

He claimed it was unlikely to add to players' workloads because the new events were built into the revised ICC future tours schedule (to be changed from a five-year to a six-year cycle from next May) and different teams might be used in Australia's 20-over team.

"We had one (Twenty20 international) last season and we'll have one next season, but we already have very successful Test and one-day cricket," Sutherland said.

"It has been very successful down a level. We want to grow and establish that (domestic) level before flooding the international market with Twenty20. We don't want to cannibalise the game." Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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