As far as T20 cricket is concerned, the more the merrier. That seemed to be the message from Champions League chairman Lalit Modi in Bangalore on Thursday. And guess what, he is even looking at a future when the tournament will be as popular as its world famous namesake - the UEFA Champions League football tournament.
For starters, Modi said the International Cricket Council (ICC) has cleared a three-week window for the Champions League in September-October in the post 2012 Future Tours Programme (FTP). HT had reported this in Thursday's edition.
“We had asked for a window for the Champions League and it was granted by the ICC yesterday. The tournament has found a place in the new FTP,” Modi told the media on Thursday.
Modi also promised an all-out effort to take its popularity to the level of the Europe's premier club football tournament.
“The Champions League might not have an immediate fan base, but we will leave no stone unturned to take it to the proportion of the UEFA Champions League,” Modi said. The Indian Premier League, he said, has already showed how quickly India accepted the idea of city-based teams.
“Events like the Champions League Twenty20 will get more international cricketers to participate in their domestic competitions as only that would help their teams qualify for the Champions League.
“The tournament is just a tool to broad-base cricket and promote the game even in countries who did not take interest in it so far,” Modi said.
The first edition has 12 teams from seven countries.
Modi said the number of countries and teams will increase gradually as the concept of T20 gets institutionalised in all cricket-playing nations.
“So far, only England, Australia, South Africa and India have a systematic and organised Twenty20 set up. As the concept gets a grip in places like the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh etc, we will have more and more teams making the tournament more competitive.”
Quashing rumours of Pakistan being sidelined from the event, Modi said: “Even we want teams from Pakistan to participate.”
“The situation now doesn't allow that though. But, if it is held offshore in the future, they might be able to play.”