Southern hemisphere T20 tournament mooted

Australia, South Africa and New Zealand are in discussions to set up a southern hemisphere version of the successful Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

Planning for the tournament is still at a conceptual stage and is believed to be an eight-team league with four franchise teams based in each country by 2011.

The format would see a number of franchises in an Africa-centred eastern conference and a similar western conference with an Australasian focus, with the top teams from each conference meeting in the finals.

The timing of the tournament would complement the IPL, creating the opportunity for Indian players to participate in both competitions.

Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said detailed discussion with South Africa over the past year and preliminary discussions with New Zealand had shown strong interest in the concept.

“The idea developed out of blue sky T20 thinking over the past 18 months,” he said.

“Regional-level T20 cricket played at the level immediately below international cricket has shown it can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket.

“But as we have seen in India, it needs critical mass to generate major public excitement and the regional concept we have been charged with developing provides that critical mass.

New Zealand Cricket executive Justin Vaughan said the success of the inaugural IPL was an indication of the demand for regional Twenty20 competitions.

“Gathering a large number of the world’s marquee players into a single competition over a compressed timeframe can capture the public imagination and create new audiences for cricket,” he said.

“The challenge for the three southern hemisphere boards is to create the stage for that opportunity to be captured in a way which complements international cricket.”

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