"I like it." The tagline, borrowed from singer Enrique Iglesias' hit number, appears across billboards of various sizes across Johannesburg promoting the Champions League T20.
While the Spanish superstar crooned here on Thursday, the eve of the championship, to whip up excitement, another superstar in India — Amitabh Bachchan — is doing his bit to get the television audience hooked to the event.
Clearly, the promoters are leaving no stone unturned to shore up the TRP ratings for the multi-million dollar event. While the impact will be known with time, spectators here don't appear as eager, as of now, as they were when the IPL came here last year.
But ticket sales, a more creditable indicator, have been satisfactory, according to a Cricket South Africa official. "Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth have local teams, so sales have been fine there. In Durban, the big Indian community will take care of it. The only venue that's slightly sluggish is Pretoria," the official said.
Nevertheless, the promoters and players sound optimistic about the tournament being a success. The high standard of the game is what they feel will bring in the crowd. "The quality of cricket will be really high as it's a tournament between domestic teams from different nations. It's certainly going to be a notch higher than the IPL," said Manish Pandey, a Royal Challengers Bangalore player.
Besides, the championship has a large degree of unpredictability, which's always good for the sport. Last year's winners, New South Wales, and the most exciting team, Trinidad and Tobago, have failed to qualify for this year's edition. In fact, just three teams from the last edition — Royal Challengers Bangalore, Sri Lanka's Wayamba XI and Australia's Victoria Bushrangers — have retained their berth in the championship, and the other seven teams are first timers.
Going by the practice matches, in which totals of around 170 and 180 have been scored and chased down successfully, the wickets promise to be better than what they were in India for the event last year.
All in all, it's time for some fast and pulsating cricket.