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So the big one is almost upon us. Over the next day or so, you can expect to be bombarded with Champions League previews, but frankly, you might as well ignore all of them, because this is the only appetite-whetter you’ll need. Armed with the Long Handle Dummies’ Guide to the Champions League, you will be able to bluff your way through those tricky CL conversations that will soon be taking place in offices, nightclubs, brothels and places of worship around the globe.
How Does It Work? The format is simplicity itself. A dozen teams play one another approximately 117 times in the first Super Eliminator Knock-Out Round. The squad with the most hamstring injuries will then drop out before we enter the Extra Special Decider Mini-League, from which the 10 least exhausted teams will progress, and so on. Eventually, after just 7102 pulsating matches, we will reach the Ultimate Supreme Champion Play-Off World Series Final, at the end of which the Indian team with the highest number of points will be declared the winner and will be named Supreme Overlords and Rulers of the Universe (2009), although they will have to defend their title almost immediately.
What Should We Look Out For? Some of the world’s finest commentators and Mark Nicholas have been polishing their adjectives in preparation for this feast of cricket, so you can expect some innovative and daring use of sponsors’ names during the long, long days ahead. Viewers should also be on the lookout for the early signs of Twenty20 fatigue, the first symptoms of which are an inability to remember which teams are playing, and a nagging feeling that Ravi Shastri is hiding in your wardrobe.
Teams To Watch
Deccan Chargers The reigning IPL champions, they got their name thanks to their habit of asking for exorbitant fees for getting out of bed, practising and smiling. In preparation for the Champions League, Deccan recently unveiled their new team logo: an enormous golden wheelbarrow full of currency notes.
Delhi Daredevils Qualified by virtue of not being the worst semi-finalists at IPL 2009, the Daredevils have been boosted by the absence of Paul Collingwood and have warmed up for this tournament with a team-bonding visit to the Bank of India.
Somerset Peasants/Sussex Nobodies May struggle to adapt to the heat, the travel and the presence of large numbers of spectators. Although they aren’t very good, all the English lads have brought their bank details with them and are hopeful of getting a result.
New South Wales Meat Pies The only serious challengers from outside India, the Meat Pies are planning a big celebration if they win the thing. To thank the folks of New South Wales, Simon Katich will be letting fans catch a glimpse of the yacht he hopes to buy with his winnings, and Brett Lee has promised not to sing.
Cape Chokers The current South African Twenty20 Champions, the Chokers only won their final playoff against the Border Bottlers when the other team got so nervous about the big day that they forgot to turn up. The Chokers still somehow managed to find themselves 10 for 2 after five overs, but then thankfully rain intervened and they scraped through under the Duckworth-Lewis system.
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Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73