Champions League Twenty20 September 20, 2010

Champions League needs better selection process

Cricketers from Maharashtra must be wondering what Wayamba from Sri Lanka did to be playing in the Champions League in South Africa
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Cricketers from Maharashtra must be wondering what Wayamba from Sri Lanka did to be playing in the Champions League in South Africa. Don’t tell them that Wayamba won their domestic championship because so did Maharashtra. You may want to remind them of the high standards of competition and their obvious lack of quality, but isn’t Wayamba looking like a fish out of water too? So even that argument falls flat on its face.

Apparently, T20 cricket bridges the gap between the good and the bad teams, thanks to its unpredictable nature and small canvas, but even then, Wayamba is looking woefully out of its depth. Obviously, Wayamba is not to be blamed, but the flawed system. Wayamba haven’t gatecrashed the event; they deserved to be there after winning their domestic tourney.

Champions League, supposedly, is a clash between the domestic T20 champions from different nations -- India being the only exception by choosing to put forward the IPL champions. To consider the IPL a domestic tournament of the standard of domestic cricket in the West Indies and Sri Lanka is grossly unrealistic. All domestic tournaments in the world have a fair representation of their states, districts or counties and that’s what makes it the level playing field for everyone involved. In the IPL we have only eight teams representing the country where 27 teams play at the first-class level. And even those eight teams have four overseas players in the playing XI further curtailing the role of Indian domestic players.

Despite having such disparity, you may have to live with it if there wasn’t another domestic T20 tournament taking place in India. But there is one, prestigious at that – the All-India domestic T20 tournament of which Maharashtra is the proud champion. And hence they have a valid reason to be gutted for not being there in South Africa right now.

The flip side to the story makes one wonder if Maharashtra, though T20 champions, yet lacklustre, and relegated to the plate division, can actually prove to be head turners in the Champion’s League? Let me share a small detail to explain how it all panned out. The knock-outs of the domestic T20 tournament overlapped with the IPL, and hence the qualifying state teams released all their key players to play in the IPL. Subsequently, the standard of the domestic tourney dropped massively, which is how Maharashtra, though average, became the champions.

Undoubtedly, if full strength state teams compete at the national level, our winners would not only be worthy of a place in the Champions League but also make waves. Imagine if Delhi wins the tournament? You’ll have Gambhir, Sehwag, Nehra, Ishant, Kohli, Dhawan etc playing. Doesn’t that prospect excite you?

But there might be a small catch in this arrangement too, and i.e. some players might have to choose between state and club. If both KKR and Delhi qualified, Ishant will have to choose the team he would represent at the World stage. But that’s only fair because most players are already facing that tough question. Kallis and Cameron White chose to stay with RCB, Nannes had opted for DD over Victoria etc. So why lose sleep if Bhajji or Ishant have to make that choice?

An easier alternative would be to scrap the national tournament because in any case it isn’t serving any purpose. In fact, to make an even playing ground for everyone involved in the Champions League, there should be leagues like the IPL in all participating countries with similar rules. Because right now it isn’t proving to be the pinnacle of domestic T20 tournaments, as a lot of people are making it out to be.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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  • fanedlive on September 26, 2010, 21:03 GMT

    So much is said about the IPL sides having an edge with the players of high profile, but actually that is what is selling the CL T20. The standard of competition is high bcoz of them and also consider guyana and south australia both are fair selections according to akash but the latter defeated two IPL teams whereas the former couldn't even pull off a win. Talking about Wayamba they got a bunch international players in the team as well so why consider the 4 foreigners as international only, as some one pointed the teams could buy one or two international just to boost their side. Most importantly its on the given day how the teams perform on the field, you just can keep blaming the system if two teams look out of place.

  • fanedlive on September 25, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    All this talk above seems idealistic and I for one, think in the same manner, but I wouldn't give a toss about the CL if the big name players(read IPL teams, mostly) weren't in there. Leave CL, IPL teams playing in India alone can get a lot better if they fielded a young, agile and tightly knit team...but I fear they'll loose audience that way, as most of the people flock into the stadiums or to their TV sets to see their *stars* decimate the opponents.

  • fanedlive on September 25, 2010, 3:02 GMT

    Don't Blame Wayamba or SriLanka for the incorrect selection Process in India If Champions league if for champions of domestic T20 tournaments Teams from IPL have no right to be there It would be necessary to for India to do justice to their domestic leauge champions. But Wayamba and teams from New Zealand and West Indies are not to be blamed It is like trying to play a world cup with foreign players

  • fanedlive on September 23, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    best way is to follow south African model of domestic cricket.

  • fanedlive on September 23, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    In Australia our state teams are allowed to play two international players in the T20 tournament. This is probably a good compromise between a domestic competition and an IPL style extravaganza. England has a similar set up. As a result neither country 'needs' an IPL.

    I have no problem with India submitting the IPL teams for the champions league. The problem seems to be that the BCCI has overlayed a second set of teams over the state based ones without adjusting the state fixtures and removing the domestic T20 competition.

    The only area I think needs to be standardised is the maximum number of internationals allowed in a CLT20 team. What's to stop the IPL teams with say eight internationals on the books from playing all eight in the CLT20? It would be kind of cool to see but that's heading more in the direction of a WCL (world cricket league), something which would be logistically almost impossible.

  • fanedlive on September 22, 2010, 23:31 GMT

    CD has their top 3 players(Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram, Graham Napier) not playing which is why they look very average. CD pretty much got into the CL because of Ross Taylor(80 off 30 balls in the final). IPL teams should not get first dibs on the overseas players, the player should get to choose. I would like to think the player would choose his home club. I agree with putting indian domestic sides in the CL and maybe just the ipl finalists. Currently the NZ domestic t20 comp only allows one overseas player per team which is pretty good i think, although this is going up this year to 2 players.

  • fanedlive on September 22, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    contd.

    IPL team are 'known' in other countries 'mostly' because of international players. I don't think so anybody in Eng knows about the Ranji/Duleep trophy winning team!

    4. There is absolutely nothing wrong in India sending their IPL teams for CL. They have spent lot of money in advertising the "IPL-brand". Moreover, ICC has very little say in-how BCCI/CSA/PCB organize their domestic tournaments (zone structure, number of teams, player-exchange rules, etc.). So, if BCCI claims IPL as their best domestic tournament, no one can refute that!

    5. If CL HAS to succeed, other boards have to work hard in 'branding' their teams. No doubts CLT-20 is modeled after EPL (soccer)! nothing wring in aping their club-functioning Players are sold and bought every season at whopping costs.

    6. CL is quite young, it will evolve with time. Hopefully, clubs/boards will come up new straightedges to make a solid fan-base for their teams. One thing is sure, CL can not live only on IPL-teams hype!

  • fanedlive on September 22, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    I agree Akash. Ideally, each member of ICC should have 'standard' T-20 domestic tournament and finalist or winner should qualify for the Champions league.

    However, this create will create lot of issues. One of them is about foreign-players-policy.

    1. Many foreigners play in English county cricket also. If IPL teams are deemed 'unfit' for having outsiders, then England domestic teams are automatically disqualified too.

    2. To promote cricket, it is necessary to have a blend of cricketers from different countries/regions. If all the team players are from a single region, it will be extremely difficult to sell CLT-20 to audiences. Indians (or Maharashtrians)will be interested only in their team matches. Same will be true for SA/Aus/SL teams. No one in Aus will watch a match between Maharashtra and say Wayamba!! Such CLT-20 will die in no time.

    3. Presence of International players (from other countries) is must, if you want your team to be recognized in other countries. IPL contd.

  • fanedlive on September 21, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    Excellent.Along with 2 finalists of IPL, the champion of domestic T20 tourn should qualify forCLT20.

  • fanedlive on September 21, 2010, 6:21 GMT

    scrap the IPL, and then select the champions league from the top domestic teams, that would be a way to level the playing field a bit. For example, Ross Taylor could have had a huge impact for Central Districts, but was being paid more by RCB, who in all honesty should be doing fine without him. The Champions League should be made up of players representing their own domestic side in their own country. Look at the Aussie sides, or the Warriors, all playing excellent cricket because they are units, rather than conglomerates thrown together for a few weeks each year.

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