Cricket’s Champions League, have I got your attention? No, thought not…
The ICC has a created a competition nobody wanted and nobody is interested in. Not only that, but they have delivered it in a format that is confusing and dangerous.
The first problem is that cricket is not particularly tribal, fans get passionate about their country’s successes but not nearly so much about those of their county or local franchise. Certainly not to the extent that they are going to travel to South Africa to watch them in a tournament from which they might be eliminated within 3 hours.
Secondly, the transient contractual arrangements of the world’s top T20 players mean that in any one calendar year, they might have represented up to four teams in separate competitions, possibly qualifying for the CLT20 with all of them.
The rules state that they can only go on to represent one team and logic tells us that those who have to make such a choice, will stay with the high-paying IPL franchises such as Mumbai and Delhi.
That means that teams from the T20 or Big Bash will have to go out and recruit other players, who didn’t help them qualify in the first place. The fluid nature of these ever-changing line-ups prevents fans from forming any sort of meaningful attachment and with it the passion required to develop true interest.
For those cricket fans who appreciate the dynamic format of T20, they have the opportunity to watch the all of world’s top players perform for huge money in the IPL and glory in the T20 World Cup.
The third and probably most alarming issue in the format of the competition. We are all too aware of the ever-present issue of match fixing (and spot betting) that has plagued cricket over the last 10 years.
One way of trying to prevent this is to ensure that every game has something resting on it, fuelling the competitive instinct of players who want to end their careers with a CV full of titles and accolades.
What CLT20 has created through its Qualifiers and Group Stage is a multitude of dead-rubbers, meaningless games that are breeding grounds for questionable performances and suspicious results.
Last Thursday, the only two games on offer were qualifiers involving four teams that could not advance to the group stages, 44 players who were either at the end or start of gruelling seasons, a long way from home, with nothing to play for.
Such scenarios make professional cricketers very vulnerable to shady bookmakers. It takes just one moment of weakness and a career, reputation or even life is ruined.
The ICC should be doing everything it can to prevent these occurrences, not create them.