When the Champions League Twenty20 kicked off in 2009, it was touted as a league of Twenty20 champions across the globe to determine the best team in the world. However, it was nothing but a tournament designed to give one more branding opportunity for the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams.
And those who didn't agree with it, at least in public, will have to eat their words after the blatant tweaking of rules ahead of the third edition of the CLT20 to suit the IPL franchisees.
It all started with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) including Chris Gayle and Dirk Nannes in their squad for CLT20. For those with poor memory, Gayle, who was surprisingly ignored by all 10 teams during January's player auction, was included in the RCB squad only after Nannes was ruled out of IPL-IV midway through the tournament.
Logically, only Nannes or Gayle should have been allowed to participate in CLT20. However, with the brand CLT20 far from having established itself in the first two seasons and the third edition already having taken a hit thanks to a plethora of injuries to star Indian players, the event technical committee allowed Nannes and Gayle - both crowd pullers in their own right - to share some more good times in the RCB dressing room.
If this wasn't proof enough to show that CLT20 has different rules for IPL franchisees, Thursday's announcement that the Mumbai Indians will be allowed to field an extra fifth overseas player, in the wake of injuries to their Indian players, sealed the debate.
The statement clarifies that the decision was taken after eight of the 23 Mumbai Indians players, incidentally all of them Indians, were ruled out.
“In the current circumstances, if the Mumbai Indians suffer one more injury to an Indian player, they will be unable to field a team due to CLT20 rules restricting teams to a maximum of four overseas players in any one match,” a CLT20 statement said.
“As a result, the CLT20 Governing Council has approved a recommendation by the Technical Committee that to ensure the integrity of the tournament, the Mumbai Indians will be permitted to select up to five overseas players in any one team, provided those players were contracted to play in the 2011 IPL.”
One wonders if Somerset or say South Australian Redbacks had suffered so many injuries to their domestic cricketers, whether they would have been allowed to increase their number of overseas cricketers, denting the basic spirit of the game.
But with the world of Twenty20 cricket spinning around vitamin M more than anything else, everything seems to be fair when it's done by the IPL teams.