November 19, 2009 - the long, complex, logistical exercise was at a climax. It was the day that The England and Wales Cricket Board released its full domestic program for the 2010 season. Eighteen counties, visiting teams from seven nations. Five months packed with three domestic competitions plus 80 days of international cricket.
Lots of work ahead for two dozen multi-million pound professional sporting clubs. Many tickets to sell. Much to look forward to, from the first university matches on April 3 to the forty-over final on September 18.
February 10, 2010, 11.59am GMT - Champions League Twenty20 Commissioner (and Indian Premier League Commissioner) Lalit Kumar Modi issues a press release via his favourite method, Twitter:
"Champions League 2010 - dates are finalised as Sep 10 - Sep 26 this year."
This announcement, not to mention its method of delivery, left the ECB and all of the counties dumbfounded. A direct clash with the last week of the county season for the two English teams expected to be invited to play in the Champions League. A clash including the semi-finals and final of the "Clydesdale Bank 40" as well as the last round of the county championship. Not to mention the entire five-match England v Pakistan ODI series.
And the identity of the two qualifying teams would be known only once the finals of the Friends Provident Twenty20 are held on August 14. The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph report some of the reaction.
Modi subsequently said that he had "consulted" the ECB prior to making the announcement and had asked them to somehow tweak their season. He also claimed that the tournament had to be held between September 10 and 26 as the Australian team was playing a one-day series in India commencing October 2.
That last assertation raises two so far unanswered questions:
1. If the India v Australia ODI series begins on October 2 why, then, have neither the BCCI nor Cricket Australia made any announcement to that effect?
2. If no announcement had been made of the venue of the Champions League (and as at February 27 this still hasn't happened, despite rumours that it will be staged in South Africa), then why the fuss about a clash of dates with an ODI series in India, while a clash with an ODI series held in England is not a concern?
Another concern, yet to be reported as resolved, was the non-payment of the winner's prizemoney to 2009 Champions League winners, New South Wales by tournament organisers, Global Cricket Ventures (a joint venture of the BCCI 50%, Cricket Australia 33.33% and Cricket South Africa 16.67%), as reported in January.
For many people, it is hard to delineate between the Indian Premier League and the Champions League. While the BCCI are entitled to name whoever they like to their half-share of the Champions League board, it is a completely unacceptable conflict of interest for Lalit Modi to be personally Commissioner of both events. Sometimes, it sounds like he himself can't tell the difference between the two.
Postscript: Commissioner Modi gave his justification for Announcement By Twitter in a reply to a tweeted question on February 18:
"its the fastest way to get to everyone.Press release takes time to reach.We do that too.This allows us to get info to u real time"
As I said the other day, methinks the commish doth tweet too much.