Warne snubs Vics for rich Indians
Shane Warne will lead an Indian side over his beloved former state team Victoria in the inaugural Champions Twenty20 League, which is set to deliver a huge windfall for Cricket Australia and its international stars.
It is believed the Indian board, which insisted on a 50% stake in the tournament, has secured financial backing of $US750 million ($792 million) over 10 years.
Warne, who captained Rajasthan to the first Indian Premier League title in June, will play against the state that developed his talent as cricket launches its version of soccer's UEFA Champions League from September 29-October 8 at venues in India yet to be decided.
The top two Twenty20 sides from Australia (Western Australia and Victoria), India (Chennai and Rajasthan) and South Africa (Dolphins and Titans) will face-off in the eight-team competition, with England's board as yet undecided whether to participate.
Organisers are hopeful that the England and Wales Cricket Board will allow champion Middlesex to participate, but it's believed teams from Pakistan, New Zealand and the West Indies have already thrown their hats in the ring should England not do so.
Australian batsman Michael Hussey will avoid playing against his WA teammates after being claimed by his IPL team Chennai because he will be on international duty. The Australian team arrives in Hyderabad on September 29 for its tour of India and as far as Cricket Australia is concerned, that signals the start of its campaign.
While organisers have stated that international duties take precedence, they are sure to find a clear gap in the calendar next year so that IPL franchises get full value for the millions they have spent on their squads.
Australia's highest-ranked Test batsman would have played for the Chennai Super Kings against his state had it not been for the tour schedule. Instead, Hussey and Chennai teammate Matthew Hayden will remain with the Australian squad.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland orchestrated the development of the new league with the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Cricket South Africa, and all three boards are expected to reap significant windfalls.
England's decision to turn its back on the Indian concept means more of the pie will go to Cricket Australia, which has secured part-ownership of the event along with Cricket South Africa.
More teams could join later, but they will not have equity in the tournament. Australia's contracted players receive 25% of Cricket Australia revenue, so they should receive a substantial pay rise, while the extra funds will also shore up the future of grassroots cricket in this country for the next decade.
"It's nice to be able to catch some of the wave of Twenty20 cricket that's been going around and, obviously, (it's) so lucrative around the world in recent times," Cricket Victoria chief Tony Dodemaide said.
"It's added a new dimension to state cricket, it provides great incentive for our grassroots players here as well as the guys on the fringe of international cricket, so it's growth in the game and it's great for us."