Sri Lanka legend Jayasuriya in frame for Sixes
Dashing Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya is one of the big names being targeted to play for the All Stars at the Hong Kong Sixes in November. But there are doubts over the return of Shane Warne, who captained the team all the way to the final last year.
Newly appointed full-time tournament director Mark Burns revealed yesterday that Jayasuriya, who despite being retired from test cricket is still much sought after and is one of the big attractions in the Indian Premier League (IPL), was a prime target for the November 8-9 tournament at the Kowloon Cricket Club.
'Sanath Jayasuriya is high on our list of players we want this year,' Burns said.
'We are currently talking to a number of big names from the subcontinent as well as England and Australia, and I'm confident we will have a very good side turning up.'
But the disclosure that the Hong Kong Sixes organisers were going it alone in putting together the All Stars side will lessen the chances of Warne appearing again. This is due to his agent, manager and brother, Jason Warne - responsible for bringing the All Stars last year - no longer being in the picture.
'We are not talking to Jason Warne. He is no longer involved in the Hong Kong Sixes and won't be organising the All Stars team for us,' Burns disclosed.
'But that does not rule out Shane Warne. The door is always open for him to play in the Sixes,' added Burns hopefully.
However, the chances of that happening are slim. It is believed that Jason Warne is contracted to Zero Friction, the promoters of the tournament last year, who have apparently been sidelined by the Hong Kong Cricket Association, which was unhappy with the delay of promised payments.
Last year's highly successful tournament was not only a hit with local fans and millions of television viewers, but also won an award from the International Cricket Council for being the best promoted and marketed tournament.
The 2007 All Stars, that also included Brian Lara, Anil Kumble, Glenn McGrath and Heath Streak, reached the Cup final where they were lost to Sri Lanka.
'The aim is to get a fantastic All Stars side again. We are looking at a number of recently retired internationals,' Burns said.
'The idea is to get one player from each of the leading countries.'
Meanwhile, Burns was optimistic that a deal would be struck soon over the title sponsorship of the tournament. Long-time backers Cathay Pacific and Standard Chartered have still not committed to a new term after the existing contract ended last year.
'We are in deep negotiations with sponsors and we expect to make an announcement next month,' Burns said. 'Likewise, we are also talking to a number of television companies over TV rights and live telecast.'
He added: 'The format will remain the same. We will have 10 teams, the All Stars plus the same eight countries who played last year, plus Hong Kong.'