The Champions League T20 hopes to create quite a buzz this time around. Sundar Raman, who is CEO of the league and the IPL, is sparing no effort to help the year-old tournament find its feet. Excerpts from a conversation Sundar Raman had with the Hindustan Times:
How challenging is it going to host CLT20 immediately after the Football World Cup in South Africa?
It's indeed going to be a big challenge. To make people sit up and take notice, we are launching a massive marketing campaign on the lines that it's time to party. South Africa has shown what it can do by successfully organising the FIFA World Cup. It required a lot of hard work to make it the success it turned out to be. So, it's time for them to relax and party with the Champions League.
What's more challenging to host, Indian Premier League or the Champions League?
They pose different challenges. In the IPL, we deal with eight franchises which have a mandate to run their teams. Here our role is more like, say, TRAI (telecom regulatory authority of India), laying down regulations and governing guidelines. In the Champions League, we do everything. Here we are more like the ICC, managing 10-12 teams. The challenge here lies in working with different boards, different time zones and people coming from different cultures.
Champions League appeared below par last year? What are your hopes this year?
We did research last year after the Champions League, and it emerged that the tournament lacked buzz and entertainment but the quality of cricket was better than the IPL and just a shade lower than the T20 World Cup. So we are betting on a quality of cricket here, and that's what is going to change the fortune of the tournament per se. Plus, this tournament is the dress rehearsal for the IPL auctions that will be held immediately after the Champions League. So, that will add further zing to it.
So, you agree that standard of IPL is lower than the CLT20?
I can't say that as I represent both. It's for the players and others to judge that. But there's no denying that the talent across the world exposed the quality of cricket our teams played. This year I know for a fact that all three IPL teams are putting in their best efforts to make a better impression.
Do you think the IPL controversy is a setback for this tournament too?
Champions League is not an extension of the IPL. The IPL is a domestic tournament of India and the Champions League is a tournament conducted by three boards (BCCI, CSA and CA). So, I don't think there's any setback for CLT20.
Lalit Modi is not on the scene now. How does that change things for the IPL and the CLT20?
Lalit set high goals for himself, and clearly people have learnt a lot from him his ways of functioning to run and manage tournaments. Clearly what he added will be missed, but life goes go, things have to go on. People come and people leave, but organisations go on. The BCCI is an institution, and institutions carry on irrespective of the people.
Surely there is an acknowledgement of the fact that he's not there, but there's no lack of self belief that the tournament cannot be as successful or even better.