The talking points of the moment

'Ashwin impressed the most' - Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar reviews the CLT20, picks his stars of the tournament and says this edition was a big improvement form the first one in 2009 (09:31)

September 27, 2010

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Champions League Twenty20 Review

'Ashwin impressed the most' - Manjrekar

September 27, 2010

Davy Jacobs crashes one through cover, Warriors v Chennai Super Kings, Champions League T20, Port Elizabeth, September 22, 2010
Davy Jacobs along with the Warriors were a revelation, according to Sanjay Manjrekar © AFP

Akhila Ranganna: Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar reviews the tournament with Cricinfo's Sriram Veera, beginning with a comparison of the two tournaments held so far.

Sanjay Manjrekar: This time I think it was a big improvement from last time. Last time people were surprised by the event. The masses didn't know what the Champions League was all about; they had just come to terms with the IPL and suddenly there was a league of Twenty20 cricket where they saw a few Indian teams and it perhaps came in a bit to early before there was much awareness especially among the Indian masses which is a very important cricket market. The IPL teams were not really into the Champions League Twenty20 as much as one wanted, the IPL season had just finished and it seemed like they really didn't want to be there. So their performances were disappointing. But this time around a real effort was made by the channel to promote it and there was a real connection with the Indian audiences.

AR: The fact that it was staged in South Africa, how crucial was that?

SM: South Africa provides a great spectacle the attitude they have towards sport is amazing. Not just the matches featuring South African teams, even the games featuring Indian teams had people coming in; even for the Redbacks and Stags games. People came to watch those games because they like to watch cricket. The conditions are such that you get to see everything; its not one-dimensional cricket. Visually it makes for a good picture on TV. All that added up to make the Champions League more watchable.

AR: Do you think it was good for the tournament that an IPL team won it?

SM: Yes I think it was very important because the IPL teams had a distinct advantage with professional overseas stars playing for them. There is a high cost involved in putting together the team. So losing to a low-cost team would have been an embarrassment for the IPL teams which happened last year. Thankfully we saw two teams coming through this time and the tournament perhaps needed Chennai to win it because all other [non-IPL] teams were at a slight disadvantage didn't quite have the financial muscle to get the best T20 players in the world. They were pure domestic teams. So it was important the IPL teams used the advantage to win the tournament.

AR: Looking at the format of the tournament do you think it makes a case for the tournament to say, go to Australia next, given they will have two local teams?

"This time I think it was a big improvement from last time. Last time people were surprised by the event. The masses didn't know what the Champions League was all about; they had just come to terms with the IPL and suddenly there was a league of Twenty20 cricket where they saw a few Indian teams and it perhaps came in a bit to early before there was much awareness especially among the Indian masses which is very important cricket market"

SM: This is a thing about South Africa. During the IPL my experience was that it is not as bad as going to an ODI. Somehow because of the private culture of the tournament it is more fun watching an IPL game in India rather than a 50-over game. From that standpoint IPL is quite good. But South Africa is different. When we were leaving the stadium we saw so many people peacefully walking out; there is a certain amount of a recreational feel to the cricket. In India it is all about grabbing your seat, watching the game and leaving. Here it is about having fun around the place while the match is happening.

AR: Do you think there is case to make this a global event, take it to Australia say, next time?

SM: That is the intention. The three hosts of the Champions League are Australia, South Africa and India; that will be the endeavour. But it will depend on the TV timings because they have to get the Indian viewership to make the Champions League sustainable. It is a high-cost affair because it has come at a very high price for the rights holders so they have got to make their money back and for that they have to have large Indian viewership. I am not sure what kind of timings we will have but they will have to suit the Indian prime-time viewing. If that happens they will be able to take it Australia and that is how the Champions League should be. It shouldn't be looked at as an Indian tournament. It has got to be looked as a world tournament.

AR: Last time around Trinidad and Tobago were the big revelation, with Kieron Pollard…this time it has been the warriors Davy Jacobs..who all have caught your eye?

SM: The Warriors were a revelation. They looked a seasoned team and I thought they would run Chennai close in the finals so it was surprising that it ended up one-sided. Davy Jacobs was one of their stars and they had three- four players who were very good. Juan Theron caught the eye of a lot people; Johan Boths did his reputation no harm and Mark Boucher is another guy that you have to watch for. Redbacks have some good players in Michael Klinger and Caniel Harriss; we saw Shaun Tait making quite an impression. Victoria Bushrangers had Aaron Finch who caught everybody's eye. So there is always someone who grabs people's attention. Jacobs is a household name today and I am very sure he will soon get a break in the South African team based on these performances. So the platform the Champions League gives is quite amazing.

AR: Who were the Indian players who caught your attention?

SM: I am happy that some of the Indian players made an impression. R Ashwin and M Vijay and Jacobs were the players of the tournament for me. Vijay being consistent and becoming the highest run-getter was good but Ashwin has been the most impressive. He is an offspinner in a T20 game and he doesn't have the experience that other guys like Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan have which is an advantage for them. He is a young guy and he is able to create the same kind of impact the Kumbles and Muralis have had. Along with being economical - MS Dhoni bowls him in the first five overs - he also takes wickets so he is not just a tight bowler. He bowls in difficult situations and his dismissal of Jacobs in the final was the turning point. The one player who really impressed me was Ashwin.

AR: Do you see Ashwin making it further with the Indian team?

SM: I just tweeted saying that even though it's just a T20 performance there is enough there to see in Ashwin, [so much so] that if I was a selector I would want to get him in the T20 squad as soon as possible; maybe not in the Test XI but in the 15 to make the other spinners in the team feel uncomfortable because he is a genuine threat. You can't have someone just sitting there and not challenging the spinners in the XI. Ashwin, at this point, is high on confidence he has got a good temperament and enough skills; the only thing to see is that on a flat pitch when the batsmen are not looking to hit him, whether he can take wickets. But he should be given the opportunity to show us that he can.

AR: What do you have to say about Dhoni's captaincy? He's won again and his critics say that he is lucky..

MS Dhoni lifts the Champions League Twenty20 trophy, Warriors v Chennai, Champions League Twenty20, Johannesburg, September 26, 2010
Sanjay Manjrekar: "MS Dhoni doesn't try to control everything. That is his greatest strength" © AFP

SM: Ajit Wadekar was also called a lucky captain but when he became India coach in 1993 I realised he had top leadership quality and you realised why he got the results that he did. The same thing [is] with Dhoni. He is a guy who is not outwardly brilliant in the way he is marshalling his resources, but quietly, he encourages his players. When a bowler is hit for a six, if a good ball is hit for a six, everyone is watching the six and clapping in the stands and there is music blaring. But you will see Dhoni applauding the bowler saying: well bowled. That is all a young spinner needs, that the captain has approved the ball he has bowled. He does things that are supposed to be done and leaves the rest to fate. He doesn't try to control everything. That is his greatest strength. If you watch Sachin Tendulkar in comparison, he tries to control everything.

Dhoni that way takes lot of pressure off himself but he is very good with making his players feel very secure. During the final, in the last ball of the innings he had an issue with someone in the deep, the way he went for the ball and he conveyed that; you could see he was a bit angry there. But if somebody has tried his best and has failed, then he has the backing of the captain and the player knows it. All these little things make a huge difference.

AR: with Sriram Veera in Johannesburg this is Akhila Ranganna for ESPNCricinfo

Posted by green_jelly on (September 28, 2010, 15:33 GMT)

Some astute comments by Manjrekar. For all the ridicule he gets from the Indian fans (even those who cannot stitch together five words to make a statement) about his commentary, he does make some sound observations. I especially liked his take on Dhoni's captaincy.

Posted by   on (September 28, 2010, 9:56 GMT)

Needless comparison between SRT and MSD towards the end...That is Sanjay Manjerekar for you...Some where in the corner, it stings that he has not been able to influence his criticim on SRT (Including the famous While Elephant remark)...Hard headed guy

Posted by   on (September 28, 2010, 7:55 GMT)

Not a surprise, now in cricket money talks. Compare Ashwin and Muralidaran's figures in the tournament and see how Murali though one wicket less bowled much better. Crickinfo has become a Indian subsidiary as it talks mostly about Indian players, all because money talks.

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