Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mccullum loves IPL

New Zealand's hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman, who was one of the stars of the inaugural Indian Premier League tournament this year, believes the expansion of the format was the inevitable next step after its success throughout the world.

The two finalists of this summer's Twenty20 Cup will join two teams from India, Australia and South Africa in a tournament which will earn a £2.5million jackpot for the winners - a huge increase in prize money from the £1million which was first suggested.

A venue for the competition has yet to be finalised, but both the Middle East and India have been suggested, and McCullum enthused: "It sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

"I don't know the ins and outs of it but any sort of tournament that can generate the incomes, profile and fan-base they are doing has to be good for the game.

"As long as they continue to get the best players out there in a competitive environment wanting to do well and wanting to perform, I'm sure the tournament will be a success."

He added: "It would be great to have a Champions League like they do in football and have the hype around it - it will be great for the game to have that sort of following."

England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke and chief executive David Collier have been in discussion with their international counterparts this week.

The 15 matches over a 10-day period will take place immediately after the end of the Champions Trophy in Pakistan, which concludes on September 28.

Shane Warne's IPL champions Rajasthan Royals and runners-up Chennai Super Kings will be joined by Victoria, Western Australia, the Titans of Pretoria, and KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins.

"We're extremely grateful to our great friends from Australia, India and South Africa for their hard work and determination to get this tournament off the ground," said Clarke.

"The ECB Twenty20 Cup will be even more fiercely contested this season in the knowledge that the two teams who reach the final will qualify for the Champions League and the chance to win 5million US dollars."

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