Maharaja Trophy T20 – KSCA to relaunch flagship T20 tournament in August

Maharaja Trophy T20 - KSCA to relaunch flagship T20 tournament in August

The Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) is relaunching its T20 tournament this August, three years after the competition was hit by a series of corruption allegations and, subsequently, the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Karnataka Premier League (KPL), as it was known then, will now be called the Maharaja Trophy T20. The rebranding aside, the KSCA has made some structural changes in the way the six-team tournament will be run going forward.

What is new?
The KSCA has disbanded the franchise model and will take complete control of all cricketing aspects – right from player draft to payments to appointments of coaches and staff. They have, however, brought on board sponsors for each of the six teams for the ninth edition, set to run from August 7 to 26 across Bengaluru and Mysore.

Was corruption the reason for the change in structure?
Primarily, the KSCA has made the shift keeping in mind the country’s tax laws. “The association is liable to pay a higher percentage of its revenue in the form of taxes should they stick to the franchise system, since it’s seen under the tax lens as income earned” secretary Santosh Menon said. “The current format – with KSCA bearing all expenses – won’t attract the same percentage of tax.” That said, the KSCA has reiterated its stance of complying with all anti-corruption protocols as mandated by the BCCI.

Who are the six teams?
Each of KSCA’s six zones are represented – Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi, Shivamogga, Raichur and Mangaluru.

How will teams be formed?
The KSCA’s cricket committee, headed by president and former India allrounder Roger Binny, has formed a core group of six selectors picked from across the six zones of the state who will take part in the draft process to ensure all squads are balanced. The selectors are Anand Katti, AR Mahesh, MV Prashanth, Santosh Vadeyaraj and Raghotham Navli.

All top cricketers within the age bracket of 35 years will be eligible to play. The KSCA committee will also nominate the captains and vice-captains. There will be no involvement of team sponsors in selecting the playing XI, or in any other cricketing decision.

Who appoints the coaches?
The KSCA has distributed top coaching talent – one head coach and one assistant – to each of the six teams. The head coaches are Stuart Binny, Nazeeruddin, Mansur Ali Khan, Nikhil Haldipur, Deepak Chougale and PV Shashikant. One physio, trainer and video analyst will also be appointed for each of the six teams.

How will the draft process take place?
Players are divided into four grades – A, B, C and D. Those who have played for India and in the IPL will form Grade A. State players who’ve only featured in one of the senior tournaments (Ranji Trophy/Vijay Hazare Trophy/Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) will be part of Grade B. Those who’ve featured in various age-group tournaments (Under-19s, Under-23s) will form Grade C, while Grade D will comprise emerging talent.

How much do the players stand to earn?
Unlike earlier, where players were picked at an auction – Pavan Deshpande was 2019’s most expensive player at INR 7.3 lakh – payments will be uniform as per the grades they belong to. Those in A will get a flat fee of INR 5 lakh. Players in B, C and D will earn INR 2 lakh, 1 lakh and 50,000 respectively.

Who are some of the top players to look forward to?
All top players of the state – except those on national duty – will take part. These include Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Prasidh Krishna, Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham among others.

Will the matches be televised?
Yes. Star Sports are the broadcast partners.

What is the format?
Each team will play the other five once, before the bottom two are filtered out. The top four will then go through the same process of qualification and elimination similar to the IPL playoffs system.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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