Champions League cancelled
The inaugural Champions League Twenty20 has been cancelled, tournament organisers confirmed today.
The event was initially slated to take place in India from September 29 to October 8 but was moved to December due to its close proximity to the ICC Champions Trophy, an event which was later postponed.
The rescheduled tournament was then called off following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, leaving organisers with the problem of trying to find a window in an already crammed calendar.
The tournament’s governing council took the decision after considering the international fixture list and the domestic schedules of the participating teams.
"The inaugural edition of the Champions League Twenty20 will now be held in India in October 2009," said chairman Lalit Modi.
"The governing council, comprising the founder board members, took this collective decision after taking into account all aspects."
Middlesex were England’s representatives, Nashua Titans and Nashua Dolphins were to take part from South Africa while Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings were India’s participants.
Victoria Bushrangers and Western Australia Warriors were due to represent Australia with Pakistan’s Sialkot Stallions completing the eight-team line-up.
Middlesex had been rewarded for their Twenty20 cup success with a place in the competition, but now look set to miss out unless they win next year's domestic tournament.
Middlesex chief executive Vinny Codrington was disappointed but not entirely surprised to hear the news.
The Crusaders were on the verge of flying out to Mumbai when the terrorists struck last month - and Codrington has been well aware in the weeks since that it would be difficult to find a window for the inaugural Champions League to take place.
“It is very disappointing. The lads were all still very much looking forward to it and will be very disappointed when they hear,” he said.
“But it is not a great shock, not totally unexpected. It was clear they would have found it difficult to get a window for it.”
Middlesex were hoping a slot might possibly be identified next month. But Codrington knew it would be no easy task - and is already re-directing energies into trying to qualify for next year’s event, by winning the domestic competition again.
“We had a look at it and were thinking there might be a possibility of finding a window in January - but we were not confident about it,” he said.
“We had a unique opportunity this year, which has now gone. But what we have to do is think it will be a unique opportunity instead next year now - we need to try to focus on making sure we are there then.”
Captain Shaun Udal, who had been discussing the situation with Codrington only this morning, was taken aback when he later discovered there was to be no tournament after all.
“It is a shock. It’s come as a really big surprise - a bolt out of the blue,” he told Sky Sports News.
“Obviously, we are really disappointed. The communication lines have not been very good.”
Middlesex were hardly banking on a winners’ cheque from the Champions League, against such tough opposition, but they will be frustrated if they never get the chance to try.
“Financially for the club, it was a huge carrot that we were going to go out there and play in this tournament,” Udal added.
“It would have been brilliant financially if we had done well. But it was a bonus, not something we had budgeted for.
“From both a potentially financial and a cricket point of view, it is hugely disappointing.”
Udal’s team had no qualms about returning to India, which has been deemed safe enough to host England for an ongoing two-Test series - after they had to cut short their one-day international trip in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.
“We were happy to go back. I have spoken to most of the players in the last few days, and they were happy to go back,” Udal confirmed.
As for the future, Udal and Codrington are united in where Middlesex must now channel their energies.
“We know what we have to do now - win the Twenty20 (Cup) in 2009 and get back there in October for the first one,” the skipper prescribed.