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We need new markets and Twenty20, says ICC boss

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

0577563400.jpgCRICKET supremo Ray Mali says Twenty20 could be the revolution that gives the sport a major foothold in the developing nations it craves – China and the US.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald Sun yesterday, the International Cricket Council chairman said the popular Twenty20 format could eventually reap millions of new supporters and sponsorship dollars for a game that is otherwise struggling to compete with other sports.

The popularity of cricket’s bite-sized format has exploded in the past year and has become a major battle ground for cashed-up television networks, particularly in India, where two domestic Twenty20 competitions will start soon. Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition has been a success, and this summer there are two Twenty20 internationals on the calendar.

The first is an expected sell-out between Australia and New Zealand at the WACA Ground on December 11, while there are likely to be few seats left at the MCG on February 1 when India is in town.

The sudden influx of Twenty20 cricket means crowded international fixtures have become even more congested and may lead to Cricket Australia eventually axing the traditional one-day tri-series once its contract expires in the 2011-12 summer.

As revealed in the Herald Sun in July, next summer may be a portent of things to come when New Zealand and South Africa play separate one-day series against Australia, with a tri-series unlikely.

While fixturing remains a major problem, South African Mali, speaking from Delhi, could not hide his excitement when asked about Twenty20 and its place in the game.

“My firm belief through Twenty20 cricket is that we can get more attendees to cricket, people that have never played the game,” Mali said.

“It is short, over in three hours. People like that.

“I am looking at new areas like China. This type of game seems to interest them.

“New areas like America. They are so keen on this type of game. In America, they are already playing.

“It can bring new people, both old and the younger generation.”

The ICC’s interest in forging a strong link with China, a country of more than 1.3 billion people, is understandable. Several of the world’s major sports have made a concerted effort to tap into the ever-burgeoning market.

Even the AFL, through the Melbourne Football Club, has made an effort to get a foothold in China, with the Demons holding a promotional camp in there last month.

“I will be going to China very soon, perhaps in May,” Mali said. “The Asian Cricket Council has done a lot to create that interest in the game at school level, which is good for cricket.”

Cricket in China is mainly played by expatriates, who have organised international sixes tournaments in Shanghai for the past four years.

Surprisingly, China has a long cricket history. The first recorded match was held in 1858 in Shanghai, between a team of officers from HMS Highflyer and a Shanghai XI.

Photographs also exist showing 19th century cricket matches in other areas, such as in the southern city of Chongqing, but interest seems to have waned since. The ICC hopes similarities between Twenty20 and baseball can eventually help the game have a minor – but strong – presence in the US.

The US competed in the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy in England, but local associations have been hindered by internal bickering and politics, which have stymied growth. Mali said the ICC was looking forward to the next Twenty20 World Cup, in England in 2009, after the success of the inaugural tournament in South Africa this year.

While Mali said he was excited about Twenty20, he stressed the new format would not kill traditional Test and one-day internationals, which have looked tired in recent times.

“Each one of them has its own space on the cricket calendar,” Mali said.

“I have been watching Test cricket since I was 11 years old. I am 71 and still enjoying Test cricket.”

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Categories: Cricket News, twenty20

ICL offers $3.85 million prize money

November 30, 2007 1 comment

Organisers of a rebel Twenty20 league in India on Thursday offered a massive $3.85 million in prize money, claiming it to be the biggest booty ever offered in a cricket tournament.

The Indian Cricket League (ICL), starting on Friday, will see the winner of the six-team competition pocket one million dollars alone, raising the bar for the rival league backed by the country’s cricket board (BCCI).

“This is for the first time in the history of Indian cricket that the total money for a tournament is rupees 15 crore ($3.8 million),” said Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president of Essel Group, promoters of the event.

“The prize money allotted for the winners exceeds international standards and will create a new trend in the Indian cricket parlance,” he said in a statement.

The runners-up will receive prize money of $470,000. The unofficial league is bankrolled by Subash Chandra, whose two-billion-dollar Essel Group includes the country’s biggest television network Zee Telefilms.

The hefty pay packet on offer has lured the likes of West Indies batting great Brian Lara, Pakistan’s Inzamam-ul-Haq and New Zealand’s Chris Cairns.

The tournament kicks off in Panchkula, an industrial town on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, with the finale slated for December 16.

The BCCI-backed Indian Premier League is scheduled to be held in April next year.

Categories: icl info

ICL matches will be telecast on 25 channels

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

The Indian Cricket League will carry a hefty prize-money of Rs 15 crore, by far the highest in any sport in Indian domestic circuit. “We want to change the whole look of domestic cricket and this prize-money is a step towards achieving that objective,” said Essel group vice-president Ashish Kaul.

Giving the break-up of the prize-money, Kaul said the winners will carry home Rs 3.9 crore, while the runners-up will be richer by 1.9 crore. The remaining four teams will walk away with Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1.25 crore, Rs 1 crore and Rs 85 lakh.

Besides, there is a cash award of Rs 18.75 lakh to be won in each game. “The winning team will pocket the entire amount, with man of the match picking up another 3.75 lakh,” said Kaul, adding that they have already invested approximately $25 million into the project.

Besides the rich cash award, the other heartening news for the players is the ICL’s plan to conduct another tournament in March this year. “We have been promised that this particular tournament is not the end all and be all of the ICL. There is another tournament coming up in March as well, and it could be a 50-over game,” said a player.

“We are indeed planning a tournament somewhere around March. But the modalities are yet to be worked out,” said Kaul. He, however, agreed that tournament could be a 50-over affair, saying that ICL was an on-going project and it would gradually include other formats as well.

“The big prize-money is indeed a big incentive for the players. Besides, more tournaments will be an icing on the cake as it answers what we will do after playing this event,” said a Chandigarh Lions player.

Categories: icl info

ICL starts today, with biggest purse in cricket

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

The Indian Cricket League will carry a hefty prize-money of Rs 15 crore, by far the highest in any sport in Indian domestic circuit. “We want to change the whole look of domestic cricket and this prize-money is a step towards achieving that objective,” said Essel group vice-president Ashish Kaul.

Giving the break-up of the prize-money, Kaul said the winners will carry home Rs 3.9 crore, while the runners-up will be richer by 1.9 crore. The remaining four teams will walk away with Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1.25 crore, Rs 1 crore and Rs 85 lakh.

Besides, there is a cash award of Rs 18.75 lakh to be won in each game. “The winning team will pocket the entire amount, with man of the match picking up another 3.75 lakh,” said Kaul, adding that they have already invested approximately $25 million into the project.

Besides the rich cash award, the other heartening news for the players is the ICL’s plan to conduct another tournament in March this year. “We have been promised that this particular tournament is not the end all and be all of the ICL. There is another tournament coming up in March as well, and it could be a 50-over game,” said a player.

“We are indeed planning a tournament somewhere around March. But the modalities are yet to be worked out,” said Kaul. He, however, agreed that tournament could be a 50-over affair, saying that ICL was an on-going project and it would gradually include other formats as well.

“The big prize-money is indeed a big incentive for the players. Besides, more tournaments will be an icing on the cake as it answers what we will do after playing this event,” said a Chandigarh Lions player.

Delhi to take on Chandigarh

The ICL finally begins on Friday when Delhi Jets will take on Chandigarh Lions in the inaugural match at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium. The floodlit venue can seat about 7,000.

The Jets players to watch out for are skipper Marvan Atapattu, Taufiq Umer, apart from Paul Nixon and JP Yadav.

Chandigarh’s noticeable players are Imran Farhat, Chris Cairns, Andrew Hall and Dinesh Mongia.

The tournament will see some new rules, like no runs from overthrows if a fielder throws down the stumps.

Categories: icl info

ICL has it all: Money, stars. And cricket

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Panchkula : Indian cricket has witnessed a disputed opinion on the Indian Cricket League (ICL) Twenty20 for quite some time now. There has been intense speculation on whether the ICL would turn into reality, with the BCCI opposing it and getting other cricket boards to oppose it too.But despite everything, ICL kicks off on Friday, November 30, at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium here.

If cricket is all about cheering for the underdog, there hasn’t been an underdog like the ICL. From overseas stars to domestic recruits, from stars of yesteryears to some of the biggest names in Indian cricket history, people have braved bans to be here.

The first match pits the local team — Chandigarh Lions — against Delhi Jets. The prize money in the 17-day tournament is a whopping Rs 15 crore, and the team that finishes last also takes home Rs 85 lakh. The man of the match gets Rs 3.75 lakh per match.

Apart from the Chandigarh Lions and Delhi Jets, the teams participating are Kolkata Tigers, Chennai Superstars, Mumbai Champs and Hyderabad Heroes.

India’s captain of the 1983 World Cup winning team Kapil Dev, presently the Chairman of the ICL Board says: “The ICL is in a stage where one feels like that Test-match player who has butterflies in the stomach. But we have tried our best to get here. There have been several obstacles on the way, but we fought our way.”

This means there will be a lot at stake for the likes of Kapil Dev and other former India players like Ajit Wadekar, Erapalli Prasanna, Madan Lal, Sandeep Patil, Ashok Malhotra, Balwinder Sandhu, Rajesh Chauhan, who are associated with and support the ICL in some form or the other.

The focus of attention will be the legendary West Indian player Brian Lara who has landed here after much speculation, along with Inzamam ul-Haq, Craig McMillan, Chris Chairns, Nathan Astle, Stuart Law, Marvan Atapattu and the likes.

All the players promise to make this a cricket carnival. The opening ceremony on Friday evening is expected to have performances by Bollywood biggies like Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan.

A big screen has been installed for a more colourful ambience and it is reason enough that hardly any of the 7000 tickets are available for the opening day’s ceremony and match.

Pitted along with the India-Pakistan Test series, the organisers feel people will definitely watch the matches on TV as the ICL matches start at 6 pm, much after the day’s play in the Test would have ended.

The next couple of weeks will tell if the ICL can bring a new start?

Categories: icl info

Indian Cricket League arrival welcomed strong

November 30, 2007 Leave a comment

Like sentinels at the gate, the Shivalik foothills stood as passive observers to the frantic activity underway at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium. They must have seen the race against time to feather the bed for latest baby in the form of Indian Cricket League (ICL) to arrive on India’s cricket firmament in less than 24 hours.

Gangs of workers, television crew, ground staff, ICL top brass and all those who are part of the show had the same anxiety writ on their faces as expecting parents have in the hospital corridors. Yet, they had certain jauntiness in their demeanour that comes from defying the diktats of the Big Brother.

The ground on which the Twenty20 ICL games will be played is still bumpy in a few places; patches of bald earth peeped thorough the carpet of grass in a few areas, fine dust swirled in the air when the lawn mower was brought to the work. But in the midst of all this, former India wicketkeeper and executive board member of ICL, Kiran More, painted a picture of quite confidence.

“By 5 pm on the November 30 evening, everything will be in place. If not, then you can go ahead and criticise us for failing to deliver. But that won’t happen. Even the dust will settle and the ground will be in perfect condition for cricket,” More said.

Right through the day, six teams had sessions in the two nets besides the ground. The last to come were the Mumbai Champs, led by the legendary Brian Lara. After the quick inspection of the wicket and the ground, they went for regular practice under the watchful eyes of coach Sandeep Patil.

The arrival of Lara must have been a huge relief for the men behind this idea, especially after the gossip mills adding grist to the talk of the West Indian jumping ship in light Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s unabashed courting of the genius for their proposed IPL.

At every turn the BCCI, though not officially but through its powerful mandarins making isolated statements in different parts of the country has never missed an opportunity to run down the ICL.

What the big-men of Indian cricket said is a matter of interpretation depending on which side of the fence a person is standing. Perhaps, one thing they might have got right is the tag of ‘rebel’ that has been bandied about ICL. To think of it, the league has come to acquire life, which was just a mere footnote in Zee Network’s television rights bid document in 2005, by tapping into the disillusionment of backstage cricketers with the system. Mumbai Champs’ coach Sandeep Patil provides an interesting insight into this particular dimension of cricket ad- League Countdown ministration.

“I waited for the BCCI to give a suitable job to serve Indian cricket. Twice I had written to the BCCI president, Sharad Pawar, expressing my interest to be a coach of the India A side. I was assured a two-year contract, but after waiting for almost one-and-ahalf year, nothing came of it. That’s the time when the ICL offer came my way. Since I wasn’t doing anything, I had to take it up.”

Patil says. “In the last 20 years of coaching, I have been in-charge of Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh, Kenya, Oman, India under-19 and India A. So I have got a fair amount of experience for the job.”

But with the board making clear that the doors of Indian cricket has been shut on all those who have decided to go with the latest baby in town, Patil, however, prefers to take an optimistic approach to the contagious issue.

“If everything goes well, BCCI and ICL will patch-up. If not today, then tomorrow BCCI may do a rethink on the issue. After all, ICL is not trying to put up a parallel board, it’s just a platform for the next stars. Didn’t the Kerry Packer series started similarly, but see what it did. It changed the face of cricket,” he says.

Will BCCI and ICL shake hands is a matter in which only future holds the key, but for the time being everyone, those who have a stake in the idea as well has those who look upon it as an upstart trying to tip the applecart, will be eagerly looking forward to see if this baby walks or tips over as it gets ready to take the first step.

Categories: Cricket Article, icl info

Viv Richards is my hero: Sachin

November 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Kolkata: Sachin Tendulkar regards West Indies batting legend Vivian Richards as his hero, though he has never played against the Caribbean at the international level.

“I had played against him only at the county level. He was then playing for Glamorgan and me for Yorkshire. He is my hero and playing against him is a special moment in my life. I cherish that”, Tendulkar said at a photo exhibition, pointing to a snap showing him playing chess with Richards.

The exhibition of photos clicked by noted lensman Sumon Chattopadhyay on Indian cricket, had one that captured a young Tendulkar playing on the lane before his house in Mumbai.

The photo seemed to have turned the Mumbai batsman nostalgic and he exclaimed that even today he enjoyed playing cricket before his Bandra residence.

“It’s great to play on the road. It’s a time to relax and meet a lot of old friends. Even on Tuesday, I played on the road before my house,” said Tendulkar as fellow international cricketers Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Dinesh Karthik heard him in rapt attention.

About another photo taken just after his marriage and showing him walk with his bride Anjali, Tendulkar said “it’s an extremely special moment of my life with my life partner walking with me”.

Then he turned to Yuvraj Singh, and said with a smile “I want to wish Yuvraj all the best when he gets married”.

The entire gathering broke into spontaneous applause and there were peals of laughter all around.

Categories: Cricket News