English cricket got a taste of the Lalit Modi effect today as the Commissioner of the IPL weighed into the debate over who plays for who in the Champions League. As some of you may know, the IPL was a panic reaction by Indian cricket to head off the rebel Indian Cricket League. ICL players have been banned from the IPL, and from playing for their countries, which is why the current New Zealand squad is so weak. Now Modi has thrown England’s Twenty20 competition into chaos by announcing that no team that fields an ICL player will be allowed into the Champions League. There are precisely three English counties that don’t have an ICL player on their books: Essex, Middlesex and Somerset. If Modi is right, and squads are not changed, only those three can qualify for the Champions League, regardless of who actually wins the English Twenty20 Cup.
But that’s a big “if”. Modi is known for his grandstanding, and he must know that a) the Champions League rules are still being drawn up, and b) that the English counties have only a day or so to make up their minds what to do. He’ll be enjoying this, especially after some of the things that English commentators have said about his league.
And not content with upsetting English cricket, Modi has aimed a blow at the Australians as well. As you may recall, there is an outstanding issues as to what happens in the Champions League with players who have been part of more than one qualifying team. The big question here is over Michael Hussey, who could play for either Chennai or Western Australia. Modi’s solution is simple: Indian sides always take precedence, though they will graciously agree to pay compensation to teams who are denied key players. Given that Cricket Australia have been given the task of drawing up the competition’s rules, I can’t see that one flying. But again Modi will be enjoying himself. It is fun to watch too.