Players' representatives from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have begun talks on an IPL-style tri-nation Twenty20 league that will involve franchises from the three countries and begin from 2011.
Discussions between the representatives are being held in Australia on the sidelines of the ongoing series between South Africa and Australia, and are being seen as a significant step forward towards the formation of the league, which would follow the IPL, the Champions League and the ECB's proposed EPL.
"We can certainly confirm that we have been in discussions with the boards from Australia and South Africa and we are working towards the launch of the league in 2011," Justin Vaughan, chief executive of New Zealand Cricket (NZC), told Cricinfo. "But we are not at any stage to release details of that."
Vaughan said the three national boards hope that players from around the world would be able to participate in the league. "But it is probably too early to speculate on individuals," he said.
Discussions are still at an early stage but the tri-nation league may have three teams each from Australia and South Africa, and two from New Zealand. The collaboration among the three boards is understood to have been borne out of the realisation that it would be difficult for one country to sustain a league on the lines of the IPL, which is being run by the cash-rich BCCI. "The three boards thought there was benefit in collaborating," Vaughan said.
Officials from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa had begun discussions to join hands for an annual tri-nation tournament on the sidelines of the ICC annual conference in Dubai last year. Various models were discussed and subsequently it was felt that the best way forward was to adopt a franchise-based model that combined teams from the three countries.
It was originally expected that the tournament would commence from 2009, but a packed ICC calendar, including the postponed Champions Trophy, and commercial considerations have led to 2011 being agreed upon for the launch. The ICC's current Future Tours Programme (FTP) runs from 2006-2012, and subsequent arrangements are being negotiated by the various national boards.