Opinion: CLT20 brimming with potential, hindered by underlying flaws

Blog Opinion

On paper, the concept is ingenious, but the Champions League Twenty20 is ultimately riddled with shortcomings and contradictions, writes Ryan Bailey.

The history books will show the Mumbai Indians as the 2013 Champions League Twenty20 winners, their second such crown and one that is richly deserved after a near flawless campaign. But, at the end of the day, it won't be long until this thoroughly entertaining tournament will, just like the majority, be erased from our memory banks, for this is an event riddled with shortcomings and contradictions.

On paper, the concept is ingenious; a three-week tournament which pits the the best domestic Twenty20 teams from around the world for the title of global club domination. So why, for the fifth successive year since its formation, has such a lucrative tournament containing the best of the best continued to be blighted by spectator apathy and a general lack of interest?

Although the competition aims to pitch the finest franchises against each other in front of a worldwide audience, the complexity of a distorted cricketing landscape continues to prevent a tournament brimming with potential developing into the premier domestic event in the cricketing calendar.

The 2013 edition only further underlined the imbalances and discrepancy of an event which is supposedly meant to determine the champion among champions.

Based on the footballing equivalent, albeit squashed into the ICC's designated window, the idea itself is astute – another lucrative money-making global tournament to significantly boost the coffers of the game's governing body and at the same time provide the fans with an entertaining, all-absorbing three-week Twenty20 extravaganza, during which they can support their local franchise for world recognition.

However, the logical thinking and structuring seems to be solely confined to the idealistic concept.

On the pitch, it's been another highly entertaining and captivating feast of big-hitting, swashbuckling Twenty20 action. But, to uncover the root of the problems and the underlying flaws in the cog, the microscope must be placed over the powers who run the event.

The BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa own and run the tournament and it's pretty evident that the CLT20 is geared towards suiting the teams of the respective governing bodies.

Ideally, the Champions League Twenty20 should see the winners from all of the domestic T20 leagues entered automatically into the group stages and in that seemingly straightforward vein, there would be at least one representative from India, South Africa, Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and West Indies involved.

However, the execution is somewhat unbalanced and erroneous. The increasing number of Indian Premier League teams, this year saw four involved – only one of which actually won their domestic competition – while two champions are eliminated even before the group stages begin, only further underlines the genuine deficiencies.

Nothing can be taken away from the Mumbai Indians for their remarkable achievement of doing the IPL and CLT20 double in the same calendar year, but for an event billed to determine the global domestic champions, it's easy to see why it's fast becoming the IPL 2.0.

While it's easy to understand the reasons for having four Indian sides involved, given the huge attention levels and significant financial appeal they bring to the tournament, but the inappropriate scheduling and favoritism towards them hinders the chances of the others involved.

If the CLT20 is to establish itself as a feasible permanent tournament of significance and stability, it must balance financial success with impartial global involvement and separate itself from it's self-styled bigger brother, the IPL.

You just have to go by the past three weeks to acknowledge the potential and appeal of such an engrossing spectacle. After all, it has the foundations to become a tournament of significant meaning and stature but considerable alterations must be made before it meets the fate of the Champions Trophy among other failed events.

<b>Ryan Bailey</b>