The Karnataka State Cricket Association’s brand new T20 offering, the Maharaja Trophy KSCA T20 tournament, will be held from August 7 to 26, it was announced on Saturday.
The competition, which will begin in Mysuru and move to Bengaluru, will replace the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) that ran for eight seasons till 2019 before a match-fixing and betting scandal grounded it.
The tournament will feature six teams from the Mysuru, Shivamogga, Hubballi, Raichur, Mangaluru and Bengaluru regions. But unlike KPL, the Maharaja Trophy will not be franchise based with team owners, but only team sponsors. They include Kalyani Motors, Cycle Pure Agarbathies, Fiza Developers, among others.
There will be a draft system to pick players instead of an auction and it will be held on July 30. The KSCA has handpicked six sets of a head coach, assistant coach, a selector and a Ranji Trophy player each and they will be involved in assembling the six outfits on the day of the draft. Former cricketers like Stuart Binny, Mansur Ali Khan, P. V. Shashikanth, T. Nasiruddin are among the head coaches.
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There will be four pools of players to choose from — A (India and IPL players), B (senior State), C (U-25, U-23 and U-19) and D (the rest). The likes of Manish Pandey, K. Gowtham, Karun Nair, Devdutt Padikkal and Abhimanyu Mithun are expected to participate, and the tournament will be broadcast live on Star network.
“We are looking to replicate the [Australian] Big Bash League format,” explained Santosh Menon, secretary, KSCA. “We will be forming the teams and running the competition. It will be our sole responsibility to manage all affairs, unlike before when we shared it with teams. We have requested the BCCI to send anti-corruption teams and we will be doing our best to increase surveillance.”
Asked if the unsavoury incidents from 2019, when one of the team owners was arrested for his alleged involvement in the betting scandal, played a part in moving away from the franchise-based model, the KSCA said no.
“A franchise league would have made the tournament a commercial activity and we would have incurred a huge tax burden according to the Justice Lodha Committee recommendations,” said Vinay Mruthyunjaya, spokesperson, KSCA. “We consulted a few lawyers and they felt the same. We didn’t want to lose out on cricket at the cost of commerce.”
KSCA president Roger Binny hoped that the Maharaja Trophy would rekindle interest in the game in the districts after a two-year COVID-induced lull. “This [tournament] will do us good and continue the development. We won’t let you down,” Binny promised.
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