Posted by: nestaquin | October 13, 2009

Champions League 2009: Sense and Semantics

Brian LaraEvery team at the Champions League has now played a match and while some are already through to the next stage and some are teetering on the edge of elimination I’ve seen enough to offer some thoughts on the tournament and the outfits involved.

Before diving headlong into that task a short word about the media’s general description of the tournament. I keep reading that the Champions League is a club tournament. This may be correct for some of the teams involved but in most cases this is grossly incorrect.

They are not clubs but representative First Class teams made up of players from lower division clubs. Grade cricket clubs in Australia’s case. Some may think this insignificant but I doubt that the players from Trinidad believe they are playing club cricket. They are representing their nation and in NSW and Victoria’s case, their individual states.

Enough semantics. Harking back to cricket I’ve found this tournament most enjoyable. In this age of endless international fixturing the game at the highest level is becoming somewhat homogenised and watching the differing approaches of each individual nation’s champion has been fantastic especially when you appreciate the unique way that different cultures and geographic regions approach the game.

It is difficult to judge Indian domestic cricket using the IPL teams as a mirror due to the overwhelming number of imports and slightly less so the English representatives due to their multicultural nature, which is at least a facsimile of their international team’s make-up, but many of the best performed teams – Victoria, the Cape Cobras, NSW and Trinidad – are comprised of  players brought up and educated from the same cricketing system. For the time being at least, this familiarity with each other, both from a cricketing and cultural perspective, has served them very well indeed.

NSW and Trinidad are perfect examples of this with both teams playing in the style that has made them famous the cricketing world over for generations.

NSW, who believe wholeheartedly that they are and have always been the best First Class region on the planet, play as you would expect. Ruthlessly, aggressively and efficiently. That is and always has been the way they play and Australia’s style reflects this.

Similarly, Trinidad are full of spinners and outrageous strokemakers which has been their approach to cricket for many a decade and it is this display of regional style that is making the tournament a delight to witness.

The BCCI, Cricket Australia and the South African Cricket Board deserve credit for putting their many differences aside and creating this tournament because it will be a success, now and in the future, although I am yet to be convinced that it will eventually be the all franchise extravaganza that many a pundit predict.

I cannot imagine a time when Australian State cricket teams will be similar to IPL franchises although a couple of guest T20 players is likely to be commonplace, although a tad controversial, if the unexpected negative reaction to Lasith Malinga’s potential T20 contract for Tasmania is any indication (Some think that the money could be better spent as Tasmania have a fine bowling attack and less resources than other States).

Nor can I see the Caribbean nations going in a similar direction. This is their only chance to represent their nation in cricket outside their regional tournaments and the importance and prestige of that fact is not to be underestimated.

I’m led to believe the English teams have tightened their import allocation. Additionally, it is doubtful teams from New Zealand and Sri Lanka would ever be able to afford the millions to replicate the IPL model either. Perhaps the South African faux-franchises may follow the IPL method but for the forseeable future the cricket world outside India will follow the same methods that they always have. That is pick the best team from the competition directly below First Class level and invest in the youth of their particular region.

From what I’ve seen so far in the stadia of Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore it is doubtful that the cricketing world is about to change significantly. However, this tournament is providing an excellent platform to showcase domestic cricket and that can only be good for the game on every level and in every sense.

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Responses

  1. October was considered to be an off season in India but thanks to CLT20, we have almost non-stop cricket at the moment. Looking at some of your discussion on the TV coverage for the Champions Trophy, i would like you to tell that in India you can watch Live cricket of all the 9 top nations and also live domestic cricket of England and Australia.

    If you take all this into effect then you can understand that Indians are being bombarded with cricket and a we are nearing a saturation point.

    I agree with your notion that teams with good domestic roots are playing well but i have still some doubts concern about players playing for multiple no. of teams.
    CLT20 is an afterthought of IPL and i believe that since it is a tournament based on commercial interests, it is important to stage it in India.

  2. Once upon a time prestigious trophies like the Sheffield Shield and the World Cup also began as purely commercial ventures but over time they became more than that.

    This tournament is run by three boards and therefore will endure and within a decade I’d expect Australia, South Africa and England to all host the event.

    As for players competing with different teams that will always happen as cricket is played worldwide. The way to stop confusion is for the player to nominate his preferred team for the Champions Trophy if more than one team he represents qualify.

  3. I haven’t seen much, but it’s interesting for sure. I felt NSW were really floundering the other day until Henriques came in and changed the game. With little pace in the pitch, Hughes and Warner were almost strokeless, which really surprised me. It turned out well in the end, but Hughes’ type of knock will lose more matches than it wins in T20.

    Henriques looked a helluva player though!

  4. WA have signed up Chris Gayle to play in their T20 team. NSW had Brendon Mccullum play a game or two for them last year. Some commentators down here have been saying that it’s simply all about making the Champions League now for the Aussie T20 states, because the money they can get from it is more than they’d ever make down under.

    I agree with you that this tournament has been quite good, and though I know it won’t happen (because India’s got the money & power in cricket right now), it would be awesome to see such a tournament move around the globe & take place in the different participating countries.

  5. How I long to get to saturation point about cricket.. It’s never happened for me, yet, though.

    The difference between the Somerset v Trini Tobago and the Bangalore V Otago was only confirmation of all you state, Nesta.. we are seeing such extravagantly great cricket , yet so different from game to game that it’s a bit head whirling.

    oh that Trini Tob v Somerset match!!.. what an utter fascination , it encapsulated all that cricket has been and can be, it was so fabulous. Wild and nutso batting from Trini, and feckless fielding yet good bowling from Somerset, but when Trini took the field, it became another level of skill altogether.

    Add to this the fabulous exuberance of the Trin Tobago players and it guaranteed an electrifying too short demonstration of cricket at it’s very best.

  6. I loved the T ‘n’ T batting. But I’ll bite at this:

    Trinidad are full of spinners and outrageous strokemakers which has been their approach to cricket for many a decade

    How many spinners have Trinidad and Tobago usually played over the last few decades?

    It’ll be interesting to see how the standard drops in county cricket with the new restrictions on Kolpaks. There has been talk that division one has been of similar quality to Sheffield Shield cricket recently. If that has any truth to it, it must surely be because there are so many South Africans there.

  7. I admit Dave that the term full is late night hyperbole but it is a fact the the Queens Park Oval is the most spin friendly pitch in the Caribbean and therefore at home Trinidad play more than one spinner regularly.

    Additionally some of the best batsman against spin have come from the tiny island including Brian Lara and Larry Gomes but they’ve also had their fair share of World Class quicks too. Wes Hall and Ian Bishop come to mind.

    I’d be surprised if English County cricket is as strong as the concentrated Shield system but if Sussex and Somerset are their best then I think recent performances in India indicate that they are well off the mark.

  8. Fair enough. I had a look at the stats, they had four spinners taking 10+ wickets last fc season, as compared to one spinner ten years ago and two twenty years ago. More than I was expecting.

    Durham would be competitive in Shield cricket. I don’t really pay enough attention to county cricket to comment much more than that though.

    • T&T batting approach nearly cost them them the match had the Somerset team batted with an ounce of common sense. The same philosophy is being applied by the Windies team while batting. they promise a lot but always loose wickets in a heap. I wouldn’t want to rate T&T’s spinners after a performance against Somerset. English and south african teams still lack the basic skills to play spin and that’s why they have never won a major tournament.
      The flamboyance shown against pacers fizzles out against the spinners.

  9. this Vic v Wayamba game has morphed into a bit of wicket clattering of persistant regularity.. Vic bowling. It started off with calm and slow progress but , gee… it’s turned into a wicket festival all of a sudden.

    Lovely!!.

    I agree with you Kannan.. if T and T got their batting stuff together, they could have scored about 400 in 20 overs.. for all their wickets that went south, they kept that run rate ticking over at about 7.7, to 8 an over, astonishing.

  10. oh dear, more great bowling from Harwood.. the Bushrangers are a scruffy mob, barbers, razors, combs, these things are all strangers to them, but they are just cracking along here.

  11. I guess the teams that qualify from Delhi round of matches are more likely to win the tournament. they would be delighted to bat on batting paradises after going through what i think a bad pitch.
    Indian pitches have been notorious of being slow in the latter half of the match but a slow and low bouncing pitch is not at all acceptable.

  12. The pitches might be pants, but they are making for very interesting matches.

    And someone like Henriques (who looked like he was playing on a different pitch to everyone else) in that match really stands out.

    Sehwag now has his eye in so could make a right mess of any bowling attack whatever the pitch.

    I like the idea of marketing it as a club tournament. It is the closest thing we’ll get to it and for the followers of that ‘club’ it must be so much fun.

  13. Sussex seemed hopelessly unprepared for last nights must win game, fielding errors were so rife it became unsurprising , and Yardy didn’t seem to grasp the basic field placement stuff at all. Had no clue what he was about in the field at all. The Sussex batting was of the same calibre. No good at all.

    These are basic tenets of cricket whatever the format , so it was odd and smacked of laziness to be so unprepared in every aspect.

  14. Phooey, there goes Gilly and Laxman out of the tournament. Who am I supposed to support now?

    I can’t support Somerset even for Langer’s sake.

    T & T and the Blues it is, I guess.

  15. I suspect Langer is embarrassed to be hauling out with such a bunch of clunkers, but hey,, them’s the breaks.

    Super game of cricket with T and T.. for all the bling the T and T’s are carrying, they move mighty fast, warp speed , and it’s going to be hard as hell to defeat them.

  16. Great thoughts, Nesta. My one quibble is that they aren’t quite first class teams – they are representative T20 teams from set-ups that also play first class cricket. Even that is a difference.

    I also thought the total-franchise predictions were based not on the state teams changing more, but by further emphasising this difference, with new T20 leagues liek the IPL not based on state sides. I think that would be a pity, or more to the point, I like the idea of current-style ‘domestic’ sides in international competitions, T20 or otherwise. Of course, being steeped in the NSW attitude you speak of, I would think that, wouldn’t I?

  17. G’Day Jonathan. Well the proposed Tri-Nations IPL style tournament has fallen on its arse and if Australian cricket ever gets a franchise based system in place I reckon they’ll be owned by the State Associations anyway.

    So effectively they’ll be franchises in name only.

    For now we have a week long Big Bash tournament among the States and it is very brief. Maximum 5 matches if you make the final.

    I think there is a proposal to play the T20 stuff like the Shield and 50 over competition, that is, play everyone home and away and then a final for the top two but that won’t be in place until the 2010/11 season.

    Australia play less T20s than everyone and so far it hasn’t dented their chances of being crowned World Champs. Whereas England play the most and their teams have buckley’s!

    • Australia play less T20 than everyone, and then line up their available players in order of lowest number of T20 games played to highest number and then pick the 10 with the least experience, plus an obligatory New South Welshman.
      I have to beg to differ with you Nesta and say this selection strategy have given us even less chance of success than the English strategy. Hopefully the 2 games late in the English summer were a pointer to a change to this way of thinking.

      My own view on T20 selection is this – let the Australian selectors pick their 11, then allow each state to nominate 11 players of their own who have not been selected in the “first” Australian team. Put all the state lists together and open a web vote for Joe public to have their say. I’d wager the second team would win quite comfortably.

  18. JIm, when I wrote Australia I was referring to the States in this tournament not the national team. Perhaps picking a combined Vic/NSW team with
    Mitchell Johnson included might be the answer to the selection problems.

    They couldn’t do any worse could they?

    • Sounds good to me, nesta. With Kat or Cam White as captain and keep Clarke right out of it.

      But as they won’t… I’d have Johnson batting before Clarke, maybe at 4 or 5. That seems a no-brainer to me. Never in ODi’s but definitely in this format. Who cares if he gets out for a duck sometimes? He’ll lash it about while he’s there.


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