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Lights, cameras on suspect actions

From multiple bowlers being reported to the dominance of IPL teams, ESPNcricinfo picks five major themes from the Champions League T20

The wrath of the umpires: Five spinners were reported for suspect actions  •  BCCI

The wrath of the umpires: Five spinners were reported for suspect actions  •  BCCI

Suspect actions
This season will likely be remembered as the one with the epidemic of spinners reported for suspect actions. It began with Lahore Lions' Adnan Rasool, touted as one of the contenders for Saeed Ajmal's spot in the Pakistan team, before claiming four others, including Mohammad Hafeez and Sunil Narine, two players who are pivotal to their team.
At the international level, match officials are only a preliminary step in determining the legality of a bowler's action before the bio-mechanists take over with their array of tests. In a three-week tournament like the CLT20, there is no time for the elaborate processes put in place by the ICC. The CLT20's bowling-action policy lacked clarity, and came in for criticism, including from former West Indies captain and former match referee Clive Lloyd. Still, the policy resulted in Knight Riders being deprived of Narine, the most successful bowler over six seasons of the CLT20, for the final.
South African teams fizzle out
Cape Cobras might have been one of the favourites to win the CLT20 if Dale Steyn and JP Duminy had been fit to play for them. As it happened, Cobras were without either of them, not to mention Beuran Hendricks, who was out with a long-term injury, or Jacques Kallis, who chose to play for Kolkata Knight Riders. But even with a weakened team, their level of performance was unexpectedly poor - a particular low-light being their shoddy fielding against Northern Knights - and their only win came via a Super Over against Barbados Tridents.
In the other group, Dolphins didn't even manage that one consolation win. Their most notable contribution to the tournament may have been the late assault by Robbie Frylinck against Lahore Lions, which significantly disadvantaged the team from Pakistan in their net-run-rate tussle with Chennai Super Kings. In all, it was quite possibly the poorest-ever CLT20 for South Africa's domestic competition, which has in the past contributed two finalists.
In the shadow of the Asian Games
The tournament may have had a huge crowd on the opening day in Raipur and large numbers for the knockouts, but as with every year, the CLT20 struggled to keep fans hooked. The declining profile of tournament's ever-changing title sponsors highlights this - from one of India's best known brands Airtel in the opening season, to a brand no one had heard of before the tournament began this year.
The organisers' challenge to draw in sports fans was made tougher than usual this season since the Asian Games coincided almost exactly with the CLT20. With large sections of the sports pages given over to the coverage of the Asian Games, the CLT20 was relegated to the margins, even for matches involving IPL teams. Perhaps one of the biggest cheers during the tournament was in the semi-finals at Hyderabad when the giant-screen flashed the news that India had beaten Pakistan to win gold in hockey.
IPL teams grow even more dominant
New South Wales Blues won the inaugural edition of the CLT20 in 2009, beating Trinidad & Tobago in the final. None of the four semi-finalists was an IPL team. Since then, the IPL has asserted its supremacy over world's other T20 leagues, providing three of the CLT20's four winners and five of its eight finalists between 2010 and 2013.
This year, the gulf between the IPL teams and the rest was at its widest. Three Indian teams reached the semi-finals, and no non-IPL team beat an IPL team, except during the qualifiers. Part of this, of course, may have been because all eight players with loyalties divided between teams from their home country and the IPL chose to represent their IPL franchises. Barbados Tridents won just the one game, but would their results have been as poor with Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard in their line-up? Would Hobart Hurricanes have beaten Kings XI Punjab had their captain not led the other side and scored a crucial unbeaten 34 in a nervy chase?
New-ish kids on the block
For an IPL team owner or coach, the flip side of this sort of dominance is the fact that it might have shrunk the space for players from other teams to audition for future IPL contracts. There was no unknown player who announced himself to the world, like Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine did in previous editions of the tournament. If the unofficial embargo on Pakistani players remains in place, the list of players who might have caught the eye of IPL teams in this edition of the Champions League isn't particularly long.
Aiden Blizzard reminded everyone why Mumbai Indians signed him three years ago, Joel Paris and Trent Boult might have added themselves to prospective lists of left-arm seamers to chase, while a whole lot of teams might want a slice of Mitchell Marsh, provided he puts himself up for sale this time around. In terms of one-off impact, Jonathan Carter and Cameron Delport did themselves no harm.
The one player who made a serious case to become a marquee signing was Kane Williamson. Apart from the sheer volume of runs he scored, what stood out was how effortlessly he destroyed bowling of all kinds, particularly spin.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo; Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo