Champions League T20: Half the IPL, some Aussies, a couple of Saffas and other random guys

Champions League T20 – anything but ‘global’

The Champions League T20 is ostensibly a global tournament featuring the best domestic teams from around the world. The best of the best if you will. Which is why, of the 5 editions, 3 have been held in India and 2 in South Africa.

It also explains why this year, the teams from New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were put into a qualifying group before entering the main tournament along with the Sunrisers Hyderabad.

All the while, 2 teams from South Africa, 2 from Australia, 1 from the West Indies and 3 IPL teams got a free pass.

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This might be the chocolate cake talking, but there might be a slight discrepancy between what the CLT20 claims to be, and what it really is. And by slight, I mean humongous.

The CLT20 is the only domestic league that has a designated window in the ICC’s Future Tours Programme. And unless you’re the BCCI and choose to totally disregard it and act like you’re at a hippie love-in, the FTP dictates when countries play their fixtures.

As a result, players miss domestic leagues because of international commitments. Well, most of them do.

The point is, the ICC has set out a FTP window for the CLT20 because rightly or wrongly, it is considered the premier domestic league in the cricketing world. It’s supposed to be a bastion of champions, with each country fairly represented.

The concept itself is brilliant. All countries have a domestic T20 competition. Let the 2 best teams from each country fight it out in a global extravaganza to determine which team can call itself the best in the world.

The execution is rather flawed to say the least. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh do not take part in it, but given the shambolic internal cricketing structure in those countries, they really can’t complain. They can, but they really shouldn’t.

Quite frankly, given their repeated struggles on the international stage, and mere patches of brilliance interspersed in a sea of mediocrity are assuredly struggles, they would only be there to make up the numbers.

Ireland is more deserving of Test status than either of them, and teams shouldn’t participate in a tournament called the Champions League for the exclusive purpose of collecting the wooden spoon. Fair enough, excluding them makes perfect sense. But that’s where the sense ends and the nonsense begins, in fact, it overflows.

This year there were 4 IPL teams participating in the tournament. 3 of them were in the tournament to begin with, and the Sunrisers qualified. 4 out of 10 teams participating, that’s 40%.

If this tournament really is about pitting the best against the best, what were number 3 and 4 doing there? As a society, we are prone to poke fun at even those who are second best; sloppy seconds, bridesmaids, who was the second man on the moon, don’t answer that it doesn’t matter.

What of 3rd and 4th place? They really have no business being there. 3 other teams were forced to enter a qualifying group. Champions in their own right, but treated as second class citizens none the less. Prove that you belong. Right.

There are 4 teams from India, 2 from Australia and 2 from South Africa, but only 1 each from Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Pakistan and the West Indies. Shouldn’t all countries get a fair tilt at the title? 2 seems a fair number, 4 is excessive and 1 is plain incommensurate. Talk about your stacked decks.

It doesn’t end there, IPL teams are allowed to field 4 overseas players, and the others aren’t. Anyway, that probably doesn’t matter, the IPL teams snap up all the good players in any case. Hell, domestic teams can’t even field their home grown players because of the call of money.

If it truly is a global tournament that aims to improve domestic players by exposing them to different players and different conditions, they really should play in different conditions.

All they do is host the tournament in India or South Africa. Ah well, judging by the fight of Geller-Greene proportions that has erupted between CSA and the BCCI, that won’t be a problem for next year. It’ll just be held in India every year. But at least each Indian pitch plays differently. Oh wait…

It is time the organizers labelled the CLT20 for what it really is and stopped hiding between this façade. It’s not a global tournament, the BCCI, CSA and CA run the show.

The only cause being ‘championed’ is a financial one. They might as well man up and call it what it is, ‘Half the IPL, some Aussies, a couple of Saffas and some other random guys’.

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Yazad Z Aria
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