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Jones rejects talk of breakaway

Dean Jones has played down fears that a new, professional cricket league in India will create a Kerry Packer-style split in the game, 30 years after the original.

Indeed, the former Australia batsman claims that the new Twenty20 competition, of which he is operations manager, will include a mixture of international stars and emerging Indians to help develop players for India's national team.

"We're not trying to be a competitor to the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India)," Jones said yesterday. "Far from it. If India saw a couple of young lads playing really well in our tournament and they needed them for an Indian A tour or even the India team, we'd welcome the BCCI with open arms and say 'you can have him'.

"That's what it's all about."

The new competition's administration also includes former greats Kapil Dev and Tony Greig and former Indian chairman of selectors Kiran More.

While details are in the formative stages for a Twenty20 tournament of between six and 10 teams, which may expand to 50 overs a side next year, Jones said a "hit list" of active and former stars had been drawn up.

Jones did not rule out approaching players such as recently retired greats Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Brian Lara, but claimed "we haven't got as much money as some people think". He believes the new competition will be particularly attractive to overseas players no longer able to get a county contract in England because of greater restrictions on non-English players in the domestic competition.

"It will fill a bit of a void for some of the international players around the world who will no longer be able to play county cricket," Jones said.

"There are always concerns about Australians playing county cricket because they play so much, but there will be openings for them to play in our matches.

"A) they can earn some extra money and, B) it won't be as taxing on their bodies. There are a few lining up."

The competition has been set up by Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel Group which controls the country's biggest listed media firm Zee Telefilms. It recently missed out on an almost billion-dollar bid for India's lucrative television cricket rights.

Matches are scheduled to begin in early November during the end of a one-day tour to India by Australia.

"We won't be playing matches at the same time they (the BCCI) will be," Jones said. "We'll carefully schedule our matches and the times we are playing.

"We're trying to do something different and Twenty20 is affecting one-day cricket in the same way one-day cricket affected Test cricket. We want to see how far we can take this game."

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