New Delhi: In a first in the game of cricket worldwide, the schedule and groupings for the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 season were finalised in a star-studded ceremony at New Delhi on Friday, which was broadcast to live audiences nationwide on STAR Cricket.
Top cricket administrators including ICC President-elect Sharad Pawar; Chairman Champions League Twenty20 Lalit Modi; Principal Advisor to the ICC and President PCA, I S Bindra; Managing Director – ESPN STAR Sports, Manu Sawhney; and cricket stars from the past and present Indian and Australian teams were amongst the guests who were present at the glittering gala.
The evening also saw the inaugural Twenty20 Champions awards being presented to the best performers from the domestic leagues of the constituent countries of Champions League Twenty20. In a significant development, ESPN STAR Sports also announced that music legend A R Rahman has been signed up for composing the official anthem of Champions League Twenty20.
IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Rahman's song will transcend all language barriers across the global cricket fraternity.
Kiwi wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum, Australian southpaw Shaun Marsh, English batsman Graham Napier, Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, ace speedster Sohail Tanvir, South Africans Yusuf Abdullah and Charl Langeveldt, Knight Riders' all rounder Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Middlesex big hitter Tyron Henderson were felicitated for their electrifying performances in domestic Twenty20 competitions leading into the Champions League T20 event.
Lalit Modi, Chairman of the Champions League Twenty20, commenting on the inaugural edition of these specially instituted one-of-its-kind awards based on electrifying Twenty20 Leagues around the world, said, "It was necessary to honour and encourage performances in Twenty20 Leagues around the world as this is a format of the future from where Champions of Champions will emerge. The performances by these cricketers have captured the imagination of audiences worldwide and added to the popularity of the game, bringing in colossal increase in the fan following globally. I would like to congratulate all the winners and hope that these awards will inspire domestic cricketers worldwide to perform even better and aid in taking the immensely popular Twenty20 format to the next level."
Manu Sawhney, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports, further added, "Champions League Twenty20 is a platform where the best of the world come and play. They are the best because they have already topped their league which makes Champions League Twenty20 the ultimate name in international cricketing excellence. It is premium, aspirational, truly world class and the highest honor the game has to offer. In our mind, it is to cricket what A R Rahman is to music. And we are proud to announce that the legend will now compose the official anthem for Champions League Twenty20. This anthem will reverberate not just in India but will transcend all language barriers across the global cricket fraternity."
WINNERS OF THE INAUGURAL TWENTY20 CHAMPIONS AWARDS
Brendon McCullum, Kolkata Knight Rider and Kiwi stumper, bagged the award for the Highest Individual Score by smashing a world – record whirlwind 158 runs in the inaugural match of the DLF Indian Premier League against the Bangalore Royal Challengers.
Aussie Shaun Marsh, who opened for Kings XI Punjab was the most consistent batsman in the DLF Indian Premier League and took home the honours for the Best Batting Average with a tally of 616 runs at an average of 68.44 runs. Incidentally, he was also the winner of the Orange Cap, awarded to the scorer of the highest run aggregate during the IPL.
Graham Napier of Essex Eagles won the award for the Best Batting Strike Rate with an amazing strike rate of 195.2 and an aggregate of 326 runs. Napier wrote his name into the record books with an astonishing 152 against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup, which included a world record 16 sixes.
The Pakistani and Rajasthan Royals fast bowler Sohail Tanvir bagged top honours for the Best Bowling Figures in a Twenty20 match, with his fantastic spell of 6 for 14 against the hapless Chennai Super Kings scuttling out Dhoni's Devils for a paltry 109. Tanvir also topped the bowling charts with 22 wickets to win the Purple Cap in the IPL.
Kolkata Knight Riders' and Bengal all-rounder Lakshmi Ratan Shukla won the award for the Best Bowling Strike Rate in an innings with a strike rate of 1.6, while claiming three wickets.
Dolphins' Yusuf Abdullah was given the award for the Best Bowling Economy of 4.32 runs, in 31 overs. The South African left-hand batsman shone while bowling
his left-arm fast-medium stuff restricting the opposition batsmen with his nagging accuracy.
The Best Bowling Strike Rate award went to Charl Langeveldt of the Cobras with a high strike rate of 9, with a tally of 18 wickets. Langeveldt first came to prominence with his ability to swing the ball at genuine pace, and further work on his action in recent seasons allowed him to generate even more movement, bringing him to the attention of the national selectors.
Sialkot Stallions skipper, Shoaib Malik received a special achievement award for the team having registered 16 wins in a row till date.
The awards to Lakshmi Ratan Shukla of Kolkata Knight Riders and Tyron Henderson of Middlesex Crusaders will be given away at a later date.
The inaugural edition of the Champions League Twenty20 will offer teams US$6 million as prize money, making this the biggest prize in world cricket for the game. The prize will be shared between the teams and their players. The Governing Council of the event together with its founding cricket boards believes that the significant prize money to be shared by teams and players will ensure that the benefits of the event will foster cricket's development by injecting new funding into domestic-level cricket and at the same time will handsomely reward domestic-level cricketers and provide a unique opportunity for a higher public profile for players at the level below international cricket.