The T20 Champions League

It’s come up a couple of times on Twitter, so to clarify: I am not watching the T20 Champions League. This is not because it is T20 per se, though that doesn’t help. Rather there are a few reasons why I am not only utterly uninterested in the tournament, I actively dislike it.

The biggest set of problems is that the concept does not really work in cricket the way it does in football. In football, club competition is the most commonly played and there are hundreds of well established clubs all in relatively close geographic proximity to each other. They all play the same season with the same regulations and under the same central governing body. It works out well and almost follows naturally that they would play some games between each other. But none of this is the case in cricket. The various T20 leagues all play at different times of the year and for much shorter periods than football. (Though the shorter season is, at least, an improvement.) There is also a much greater emphasis on international cricket than there is on international football, with tours taking up most of the calendar instead of scattered international weekends. And unlike in Europe, all of the T20 cricket leagues are geographically distant from each other. The idea of a cricket Champions League is simply not feasible the way it is with football and it is a mistake to try to force one.

Those are all theoretical problems that cannot be overcome and why the notion of a cricket Champions League will never really work the way the football version does. But at least if the problems ended there it could still at least be a mildly interesting curiosity. But the forced implementation has thrown up a whole host of new objections.

The biggest is that the tournament is a de facto extension of the IPL and with the same overall goal: to make money for the BCCI. It has all the same hype and superficiality of the IPL and designed to appeal to the same audience of the IPL. And therefore like the IPL, the whole spectacle is revolting. The tournament is also massively biased in favour of the Indian teams. Presumably that’s to dispel any lingering doubts about who the beneficiary of the whole affair is. The Indian teams go directly into the tournament proper, are given first pick of the players and are allowed more international players than the other teams.

The most annoying aspect of the T20 Champions League is that there is a completely undeserved international window for it. It is a competition comprising only domestic clubs; there is nothing international about it. And even if there were, that should not mean that it gets a window. Should England demand a window for all future Test series? The effect is that I have to wait until the end of the month for international cricket (and until November for Test cricket) because the ICC are in India’s pocket. I am not happy about this.

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