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CLT20 not the pinnacle it is made out to be

india Updated: Sep 20, 2010 00:52 IST
Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra
Hindustan Times
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Cricketers from Maharashtra must be wondering what Wayamba from Sri Lanka did right to be playing in the Champions League. Don’t tell them that Wayamba won their domestic championship, because so did they. You may want to remind them of the high standards of the competition and their obvious lack of quality, but is Wayamba too not looking like a fish out of water? Apparently, T20 cricket bridges the gap between good and bad teams, thanks to its unpredictable nature, but even then, Wayamba is looking woefully out of depth. Obviously, Wayamba is not to be blamed, but the flawed system.

Champions League is a clash between the domestic T20 champions from different nations — India being the only exception by choosing to put forward the IPL champions. To consider the IPL a domestic tournament of the standard of the West Indies, Sri Lanka or New Zealand is unrealistic. All domestic tournaments in the world have a fair representation of their states, districts or counties and that’s what makes it a level playing field. And in the IPL we have only 8 teams representing a country where 27 teams play at the first-class level. And even those 8 teams have 4 overseas players in the playing XI further curtailing the role of Indian domestic players.

Despite having such disparity, you might be able to live with it if there wasn’t another domestic T20 tournament in India. But there is one, a prestigious at that — the All-India domestic T20 tournament, of which Maharashtra are champions. And hence they have a valid reason to be gutted for not being in South Africa right now.

The flip side makes one wonder if Maharashtra, though T20 champions, yet lacklustre, and relegated to the plate division, can actually prove to be head turners in the Champion’s League? Let me share a small detail to explain how it all panned out. The knock-outs of the domestic T20 tournament were held at the same time as the IPL and hence state teams released all their key players to play in the IPL. Subsequently, the standard of the domestic tourney dropped massively and that explains why Maharashtra, though average, became the champions.

Undoubtedly, if full-strength state teams compete at the national level, our winners will be worthy of a place in the Champions League.

An easier alternative would be to scrap the national tournament because in any case it isn’t serving any purpose. In fact, to make an even playing ground for everyone in the Champions League, there should be leagues like the IPL in all participating countries with similar rules. Because right now it isn’t proving to be the pinnacle of domestic T20 tournament, as a lot of people are making it out to be.