The Champions League is a joke really, isn’t it? It is hypocritical at an elementary level. The tournament is not an echo of what it really suggests: a Champions League should ideally, or is supposed to be played by Champions from all over the world, but is not. You have champions from England, New Zealand and West Indies playing in qualifiers in order to win their spot to compete in the league, while, teams placed third and fourth in the IPL are competing against the winners and runners-up from other domestic leagues in the world.
It is no more about the quality of teams competing or even about the champions; it is about the success of the tournament. Since the CLT20 is organized by the BCCI, Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia, their procedures are exclusive, and not in the best of ways. This years’ edition has seen two teams from Australia and South Africa get to compete, while four teams from India get direct admission, while the champions from the Caribbean islands (T & T) have to go through a qualifying round – how just is that? Last year, the fourth IPL team had to play the qualifiers to book its spot, but not this time around.
The West Indian board was offered a share of 12% in the CLT20 initially, during the inception of the tournament by Lalit Modi, but the board was apprehensive, and thus did not go ahead with the offer. But, a tournament on the lines of a Champions League should ideally have the victors from all the nations as mandatory participants – it isn’t rocket science to understand how it should be working. It perhaps is with a business mind that the IPL teams’ inclusions can be justified as most of the viewership comes from India to make the tournament a success, but it is inane once the core of the competition is lost.
When T&T reached the final of the inaugural edition of the Champions League in India in 2009, the spectacles of Pollard and Bravo were exposed to the world. T&T had a dream run incapacitating the Indian teams along with New South Wales to make a spectacular final. Once the Mumbai Indians signed Pollard and Bravo, then came Sunil Narine take the world by storm in the competition in the following year. Although two slim finishes brought an end to their campaign, they still did manage to weave their charm around the tournament with their sheer presence. They are entertainers, charmers and love their cricket – the reason for their fan base even in India. For what they bring to the tournament by their sheer presence, being champions in their plane, their participation should be mandatory.
Is the Champions League another phase of the IPL, with almost half the number of teams being IPL ones? It perhaps is serving the organizers’ makeshift purpose, but how about long-term sustenance of the tournament? This is surely not the right way forward. Personally, if you have a tournament, it should be played fair, with equal number of teams from all the competing nations or it shouldn’t be played at all. If the Champions League famishes itself from talent and involvement from other teams and countries, the possibilities of exposure to unskilled, raw, underdone talent that is one of the most exciting aspects of such leagues is defeated. With the view to sustain interest in the game, I hope the organizers bring about the essential vicissitudes, or it would be another one of those ventures that died down due to stereotypes.