These days a million dollars hardly raises an eyebrow in international cricket circles. So when the iSixes World Series was launched in Singapore last week, the offer of US$1 million to the winning team was received with the same measure of equanimity with which Aravinda de Silva treated bowlers in his prime. Sri Lanka's World Cup winner De Silva was one of the 'stars' on show at The Arts House in Singapore when ambitious organisers unveiled another aspect of the shorter form of the game - made famous by the Hong Kong Sixes - but now strung together like pearls on a necklace and made into a lucrative series. 'This is a good concept. Versions like these will help the younger generation get interested in cricket,' De Silva said. 'Look at all the Twenty20 cricket in India. It has helped raise the profile of the sport and, in the same way the Sixes will also play a part in getting more people interested.' De Silva, who scored a stunning century which helped Sri Lanka defeat Australia in the 1996 World Cup final, has again been cast into a key role. It will be up to him to organise a team from Sri Lanka for the opening event in Singapore (July 4-6) of the four-leg series which has other proposed stops in Dubai and Shanghai. Hong Kong has steered clear of this concept for the moment. The brainchild of Zero Friction boss Harsh Sabale - who was behind the successful Hong Kong event last year - the iSixes World Series has still not received official sanction from the International Cricket Council. One of the primary reasons behind Hong Kong's reservation is this unofficial status. While influential individuals such as De Silva can undoubtedly knit together a competitive side, Hong Kong would prefer the boards of the test-playing nations to recognise the new series and send teams. 'The Hong Kong Sixes is currently recognised by the ICC and, at the moment we don't want to become part of an unofficial circuit. iSixes don't have any official recognition, not from the ICC or the home boards of cricket around the world,' says Mark Burns, tournament director of the Hong Kong Sixes. Even Cricket Australia, who had been asked to send a representative side to the iSixes, have taken a wait-and-see approach. They are worried because it could turn out to be a volatile issue given the ICC's views regarding the official and rebel Twenty20 leagues in India. 'We are seeking to understand the nature of the relationship between the organisers of this [iSixes World Series] competition and the ICC in terms of whether this is a recognised cricket event by the ICC,' Cricket Australia spokesman Philip Pope told The Sydney Morning Herald. 'Furthermore, once we have understood the answer to that question, it will be easier for us to determine how an Australian team is represented at this event.' Organisers of the iSixes hope this will be resolved soon. Jason Warne, a partner at Zero Friction and brother of legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, said: 'We are talking to the ICC about official sanction and we are confident it will be given.' But until then, Hong Kong is cagey. It is for this reason that an offer of HK$5 million from Zero Friction to join the series - they would take care of all other costs - has been spurned by the Hong Kong Cricket Association. 'An offer was received,' Burns confirmed. 'But there were also a number of conditions attached. We were not happy with some of the nitty-gritty details although we didn't reject their offer.' Burns added: 'But without official ICC sanction, and for other compelling reasons, we decided it was not yet appropriate for the Hong Kong Sixes to be part of the proposed series.' Sabale expressed disappointment that Hong Kong have not come on board. His vision turned last year's Hong Kong Sixes into an outstanding success - it even won an award from the ICC for being the best marketed tournament - and he had hoped to continue the relationship. 'Hong Kong meets all the criteria needed to host a leg. It is an international city and it has fans who love cricket. We proved that last year. It is a shame they want to be a standalone event,' said Sabale, a resident of Hong Kong. Already Singapore has announced it will welcome some of cricket's most famous names when it hosts the first leg at the Padang under lights. Members of the All Stars who played here last year, including Shane Warne, India's test captain Anil Kumble, Heath Streak and Craig McMillan, have signed up for the new series. They will be joined by 11 other teams, nine from test-playing countries, hosts Singapore and a wild-card entry coming from a pre-event Friday qualifier contested by the national sides of the other three host nations and three leading associate members of the ICC. The prospect of a national team from China playing is mouthwatering to organisers. 'Of course, China will be involved if Shanghai comes on board as a host city. We are working closely with Shanghai and Dubai, and expect them to be part of the series.' Dubai has already been mooted as the venue for the grand finale where US$1 million will be on offer for the winners. Each of the other legs will have prize money of US$285,000,with US$100,000 going to the winners - the same formula which has worked successfully in Hong Kong. But can Hong Kong stand alone? Local officials are confident the Hong Kong Sixes, which began in 1992, can hold its own despite the perceived competition from Singapore and elsewhere. 'I don't think the limelight will be stolen. In fact, the iSixes will help raise the profile of sixes. They won't be in direct competition with us,' says Burns. 'The Hong Kong Sixes is very well known among the cricketing world and we won't have any problems signing up players.' Ten years ago, when the Hong Kong Sevens was faced with the prospect of having to join an international series, rugby officials decided to go for it, despite some misgivings that the world-famous tournament would lose its status. But over the years, the Hong Kong Sevens has grown even more in stature, and today it is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the eight-leg series. The difference between rugby and cricket is that the Hong Kong Sevens joined a series run by the International Rugby Board, the governing body of world rugby. The iSixes is run by private enterprise, and not the ICC. Perhaps local officials should take the plunge and insist that Hong Kong be the plum event - offering US$1 million to the winners - before iSixes organisers decide to hand it to Dubai. The HKCA should take a long, hard look at their tournament. ICC sanction and recognition from the various cricket boards has not worked out the way the Hong Kong Sixes would have liked. The idea was that official sanction would lead to easier access of players, especially the stars. However, there has been a wide gulf between theory and practice, with most boards sending either their development squads, or teams bereft of any name players. Sometimes a person like Aravinda de Silva will have more clout in getting together a team. It was only the entry of the big-name All Stars which sparked renewed interest in the Hong Kong Sixes last year. It was sold out for the first time and it was also a resounding success on television, being shown live across Asia. Although Hong Kong has chosen the safe option for the moment and decided they will go it alone on November 8-9 at the Kowloon Cricket Club, Burns does not discount a future tie-up. He said: 'Yes, we would like to work with Zero Friction. Possibly we can join them down the line. The door is still open.' So is the safe option also the wise option? Can the HKCA make more than the HK$5 million promised by the iSixes - they haven't even signed on a title sponsor as yet - and can they match up to the hype and success of last year? Time will tell, but time is also running out.