No time for $6m Twenty20 match
AUSTRALIA has played down suggestions it will take part in a $6million, winner-take-all Twenty20 challenge match.
Caribbean-based Texan billionaire Allen Stanford has invited the winner of the Twenty20 World Cup, India, to play a one-off match at Stanford’s ground in Antigua.
The game is pencilled in for June 29 against a superstar team selected from the players taking part in the domestic Caribbean Stanford Twenty20, a form of the game he believes can revive the game in the region.
India beat Pakistan by five runs in a thrilling final here on Monday evening to cap off a wonderful tournament of constant, instant entertainment in front of large crowds.
However, India may not take up the offer as it has said it is unwilling to enter into a private event, prompting Stanford, who was at the Twenty20 final at Wanderers, to claim he would ask Australia as a back-up.
Cricket Australia spokesman Peter Young claimed that CA had not received any invitation to play in the event.
The Australian team is heavily booked for the next 18 months, Young said yesterday.
“This is a hypothetical question but it is unlikely we would be able to fit in another event,” he said.
Stanford has been attempting to promote his own Twenty20 tournament worth far more than the $US1.9m ($2.2m) prizemoney on offer from the ICC for the Twenty20 World Cup. ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed claimed that the organisation supported the concept.
“We’re not interested in stopping it,” Speed said after the final.
However, the frantic schedule of all major Test-playing nations means it will be difficult for Stanford to stage his event, no matter how much he offers.
Already a plan for Stanford to stage a quadrangular event involving Sri Lanka, India, Australia and South Africa was scuppered by the television deal between ICC and ESPN-Star.
Despite Speed praising the Twenty20 World Cup, the overwhelming success of the tournament will not prompt the ICC to release the shackles on this new and vibrant form of the game.
Speed insisted that no matter how popular the two-week, 27-match tournament was in South Africa, the ICC had no intention of lifting its heavy limits on the game at the top level.
Trying to keep the ultra-short form of the game a state, county or provincial phenomenon, Speed reiterated that the ICC limits of a maximum of just three home and four away Twenty20 matches in any give season would remain.
He also dismissed suggestions that Twenty20 would take over from the now traditional 50 overs a side one-day match format.
“We’ve just seen India play a seven-match (50-over one-day) series in England. They were all sold out or as good as sold out,” Speed said.
“We see 50-over matches all around the world, whether they are Australia or India or England, the venues are saying we want more 50-over cricket.”