September 25, 2011

The Champions League is split wide open

It's hard to pick a favourite for the tournament, because for the first time in a long time bowlers have been given a fair chance to attack in the Twenty20 format

If the qualifying section is anything to go by, this might be the best Champions League Twenty20 tournament yet. There has been some good cricket and a few surprises, which all served to confirm a couple of adages about the game. Most importantly, whereas in the past a couple of sides have looked out of their depth in the tournament, this time it would appear that any of the 10 teams could win the trophy.

First, the adages. Pitches that give the bowlers a chance produce the best cricket. The ones in Hyderabad and Bangalore had bounce and a little bit of life, which meant the bowlers were always encouraged and the batsmen had to be constantly alert. Pitches with some life also encourage the braver captains to seek wickets rather than concentrate purely on containment. This is when the game is seen in its best light.

The boundaries at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi Stadium were fair; the sixes were legitimate and the mishits stayed inside the boundary rope. When the game becomes a boundary-hitting bonanza, it loses a lot of artistry, and fielding and running between wickets, two of the more exciting aspects, reduce in importance.

Then there were the surprises. Somerset were a revelation. They played aggressive cricket, their batsmen successfully attacked the spinners without constantly resorting to the sweep shot, and they have a good young legspinner in Max Waller.

You know the cricket world is in a state of flux when England is producing legspinners and Australia, the land of Shane Warne, Bill O'Reilly and Richie Benaud, can't unearth one.

Fortunes also fluctuated during a couple of games. In these matches the result seemed to be heading in one direction only to dramatically switch tack, like a good mystery novel, with a couple more surprises to follow and then a thrilling climax. This isn't the normal pattern associated with the shortest form of the game, where it's generally expected that one or two bad overs virtually put a team out of the contest.

You know the cricket world is in a state of flux when England is producing legspinners and Australia, the land of Shane Warne, Bill O'Reilly and Richie Benaud, can't unearth one

Once again this was a reflection on the pitches provided. It reconfirmed that when the fielding captain and the bowlers feel like they have a chance, all hope is not lost.

Also, the trend of using spinners in the Powerplay overs, to both stifle scoring and take wickets, has almost become the norm. This has come about in part because of the reluctance of batsmen to use their feet to spinners. It's now up to the batsmen to answer this challenge.

If the game is to keep moving ahead, these types of challenges have to be met immediately rather than generationally. The teams able to adapt quickly to trends, and even set a few of their own, will leave the sides that are slow to react in their dust.

The teams that work hard on getting their structure right and on putting in place good systems for developing players will have a distinct advantage over any of their competitors who are tardy in this aspect of administration.

One of the areas of opportunity is in junior development. The best coaches should be in charge of the juniors - from around ages 10 to 16, where they can have the biggest effect on a young player. The teams that develop young players to be complete cricketers will take a huge step towards achieving prolonged success. These teams will not only lead their opponents in skill but will also have greater depth of talent. With the amount of cricket being played now, the injuries mount up, and the strength of the reserve players is critical. The teams with skilful reserves will have a huge advantage over those whose ranks are tissue-paper thin.

A packed itinerary and injured players are now a part of the game, and unfortunately there are some star players missing from the Champions League tournament. However, this only provides opportunities for the young and ambitious, and judging by the qualifiers, there are quite a few hungry players around.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Richard on September 28, 2011, 20:16 GMT

    Somewhat ironic that Max Waller has been singled out for praise by Chappell when he has now returned to England after being replaced by George Dockrell in the Somerset squad. Waller bowled superbly in the Qualifying round but I doubt few eyebrows were raised when Somerset announced their inetentions, to replace him, before the tournament.

    Since Murali Kartik's arrival as overseas player in 2010 Waller has struggled to get into the starting XI in any form of the game. Kartik was superb in 2010 but following his late arrival (due to IPL involvement) he was not nearly as effective this season.

    In Waller & Dockrell, Somerset have to very promising young spin bowlers. Perhaps next season Somerset should look for a good quick to spearhead their attack rather than re-sign Kartik, thereby giving the two youngsters an opportunity to prove themselves?

  • Johnathon on September 27, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    @Angi Ch There are lots of problems with T20 and the IPL. Lets start with T20. Many young batsman are idolizing the fame of T20 over the technique of Test Cricket. This explains why the young Indians have failed in England in both ODI's and Tests.... This is happening all over the world and what we are seeing is the start of a Bowling Dominating Era. You wait and watch, in the next couple of years, some real good bowlers will be found. Lets start with the IPL. Nothing wrong with IPL... except that they offer Cricket players too much money. Players are choosing IPL over national duties. This is the reason why the Old Indian Veterans (except Dravid, but yes, Including SRT) failed in England. They did not extend the England tour to include more warm up matches due to IPL schedule and it completely altered their form.... When Raina tries getting off the mark by slogging in Test Cricket, you know theres something wrong.

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    Seriously this time the bowlers have really folded their sleeves and got into work. i appreciate that the pitch is offering something to them. the average score has been around 140 and almost most of the matches the wickets taken are around 5. lot of bowling talents from different countries have been shown up in the matches. Even today MI reduced T&T to 98 for which T&T responsed feverously taking 5 wickets for 33 runs and also made MI create a record for lowest scroe in 10 overs. unfortunately they lost by stroke of luck and few exceptions in good bowling talents.

  • Vinay on September 26, 2011, 14:10 GMT

    CL T20 comes as a welcome relief from the boring test cricket. Cricket is still alive thanks to T20 cricket.

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2011, 5:30 GMT

    Happy birthday sir. I hope we all can enjoy your writing, commentary and your insights on the game for years to come

  • kieran on September 26, 2011, 2:38 GMT

    @davidpk: Next you'll be saying that Eoin Morgan was picked in the Eng test side as reward for his stirling FC record. Your slight against Cosgrove compounds your ignorance. It would be nice to able to judge the young English batters, but unfortunately they're not getting picked.

  • Akhilesh on September 25, 2011, 17:00 GMT

    Good article !!! U hav rightly observd dat pitches play a huge role in deciding the quality of cricket wich is dished out....nd dis is fr all the 3 formats of the is realy frustratin to see the cricket playd out on flat becomes more lyk a procession of batsmen sloggin away to glory without any proper technique n the poor bowlers merely goin thru the motions watchin the ball sail to all corners of the ground inspite of their best efforts...i think its high tym the ICC starts fining the associations who dish out such horribl pitches heavily...this will achieve 2 things-one being dat atlest the poorer associations arnd the world will start preparin sportin pitches out of fear of being fined n the 2nd one being the money earnd out of such fines cud b used by ICC to further their cricketing ambitions in the associate n affiliate countries

  • stuart on September 25, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    I think the IPL is the greatest thing ever.Lots of mediocra talents get pumped up egos on flat pitches and come to a real game of cricket and get whacked.The longer IPL makes heroes of mediocre non entities the happier the rest of the cricketing world will be.Is there a link between lack of England players in IPL and the amount of success England have had. And we are world champions in 20-20.

  • david on September 25, 2011, 12:42 GMT

    warner gets in the test side you must be off ur head. now that shows u the quality of aussie cricketers about these days, if a slogger can open the batting for australia. you will be picking mark cosgrove next. old bill then would retire to his pigeons. dpk

  • A on September 25, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    You mean to say the best cricket (no matter the format) is played on pitches that give assistance to batsman and bowler? Mr. Chappell...what a startling revelation and insight to the workings of cricket! If only the cricketing boards and curators of the world could heed your advice, instead of listening to the TV ratings cash registers overflowing!

  • No featured comments at the moment.