Champions League October 11, 2012

Champions League or IPL 2.0?

Gareth Kidd
The Champions League is an exciting tournament, but the only qualms, keep it even, and keep it domestic… in an international sense

At its core, the Champions League T20 is a brilliant idea; the top T20 sides around the world, congregating for an International-domestic tournament. Two weeks of slap-happy cricket, throwing a spotlight on players of the future, or in some cases, players who may have only ever been renown within their nation's fan following. It can be a great yardstick as to the depth of the national pool of T20 players, or perhaps just an example of some local sides with strong with a weight talent. However, the 2012 CLT20, more than the previous two seasons, has seemed a little more like IPL 2.0.

Team Qualification: In the first two editions of CLT20, three IPL teams played, compared to the two from Australia and South Africa, and a sprinkling of single teams from other nations. In the third year, Kolkata Knight Riders were able to compete for one of the open slots, successfully making four IPL teams in 2011. This year, four of the eight automatic qualification slots have been given to the IPL sides. This now means sides from New Zealand, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, England and Pakistan, make the tournament only if they secure one of the two remaining spots. While the BCCI is the major stakeholder in the CLT20 (along with the Australian and South African cricket boards), having so many teams from the one domestic group takes the sheen off the international appeal.

IPL vs Home Conundrum: Easily the most contentious aspect of the CLT20 is player allegiance. In this day, when T20 Leagues represent a good financial opportunity for a player, it is not unusual for someone to be signed to multiple domestic sides. One would think that the player would automatically play for their home province. Unfortunately, players have the luxury of choice, and more often than not, are picking their IPL sides over their home franchises. Who can blame them? With so much prize money up for grabs, the player wants to ensure their best chance of winning the tournament. For the health of cricket, the triumvirate of cricket associations must come together, and alter this rule. The exodus of T&T players, the Morkel brothers and Brett Lee (just to name a few) from their local sides dilutes the intended purpose of the competition.

Home-grown players: Here lies an issue with both the IPL and SLPL sides. Within their respective leagues, IPL and SLPL sides are allowed to field a maximum of four and five international stars respectively. However, with most other T20 competitions, this is a maximum of two. The effect here is twofold. It not only gives the IPL and SLPL sides the possible advantage of fielding a side with more quality cricketers, but once again contradicts the concept of the domestic team. It may even trivialise the contest, for if the Sydney or Perth sides played Chennai Super Kings, it may be possible for 14 of the 22 players appearing to be Australian. Whether the other nations are allowed more, or IPL and SLPL sides are restricted to fewer, all sides competing in the CLT20 should have a standardised number of allowed international (that is foreign) players allowed in one side.

As stated, the Champions League is an exciting tournament, and one which will no doubt provide a great spectacle from start to finish. The only qualms, keep it even, and keep it domestic… in an international sense.