Brief, but brilliant league

2009-10-24 00:00

THE lucrative Champions League competition came to an end last night, and yet again it was an Australian who lifted the trophy.

New South Wales Blues recovered from a perilous 83 for 6 to post a more than competitive 159 for 9 in their 20 overs. Brett Lee was the unlikely hero with the bat, smashing five sixes in a rapid 48 off just 31 balls. His partnership of 49 off 31 balls with Stephen Smith saw the Sydney-based franchise finish strongly, to set Trinidad and Tobago a stiff target.

Trinidad, whose easy-going approach and infectious team spirit saw them embraced by Indian crowds, simply ran out of steam.

Having disposed of the butter-fingered Cobras the night before, Darren Ganga’s side couldn’t quite get themselves up again.

Talisman Dwayne Bravo briefly raised hopes, but when he fell for 17 to a fired up Doug Bollinger, one sensed that this was a bridge too far for the islanders.

The Tobagans “other” dangerman, Kieron Pollard clubbed three mighty sixes to briefly halt Blues’ victory plans, but it was Lee again who had a decisive impact.

A superb catch on the boundary accounted for the barn-storming Pollard, and from there it was a matter of time as Trinidad disappeared faster than a bottle of rum on a Friday night.

Lee’s early double burst with the ball had already pegged the islander’s chase back, and it proved to be a magical night for blonde “Binger”.

As a spectacle, the inaugural Champions League certainly grabbed the attention of the cricket world. It was brief but brilliant, and it provided a glimpse into where the likes of Lalit Modi want to take the game in the future.

There are those who will object to the purity of the game being auctioned off for a pile of rupees. For now, the likes of Modi have spoken of their fondness for the ultimate format of the game (Test cricket) and how they want to see it preserved.

But soon we may see the situation arise where stars think twice before choosing country over club (or province). There is already the IPL, and all the domestic Pro20 events that are used as qualifiers for the Champions League.

Modi said he hopes to make the tournament “what the Uefa Champions League is to the soccer world.”

At a time of credit crunches, retrenchments and tight pockets, a so-called slogfest that affords the winner $2,5 million, for just a few days “work”, seems to take on much more significance.

SCOREBOARD

New South Wales innings

DA Warner c Mohammed b Bravo19

PJ Hughes b Rampaul3

SM Katich* c Barath b Bravo16

MC Henriques c S Ganga b Pollard4

BJ Rohrer c S Ganga b Mohammed16

SPD Smith c Simmons b S Ganga33

DLR Smith† b Rampaul3

B Lee c Perkins b Rampaul48

NM Hauritz run out (†Ramdin/Rampaul)10

SR Clark not out0

Extras (lb 5, w 2)7

TOTAL (9 wickets; 20 overs) 159

Did not bat DE Bollinger

Fall of wickets1-24, 2-32 , 3-45, 4-47, 5-75, 6-83 , 7-132, 8-159, 9-159

Bowling: S Ganga 4 0 29 1(1w), R Rampaul 4 0 20 3, DJ Bravo 3 0 27 2 (1w), KA Pollard 3 0 27 1, LMP Simmons 2 0 23 0, ND Stewart 1 0 9 0.

Trinidad & Tobago innings

WKD Perkins b Lee0

LMP Simmons c & b Lee4

D Ganga* c Warner b SPD Smith19

DJ Bravo b Bollinger17

KA Pollard c Lee b Hauritz26

S Ganga c Henriques b Hauritz5

ND Stewart c Henriques b Clark4

D Mohammed c Hughes b Clark1

R Rampaul not out0

Extras (lb 5, w 4, nb 3) 12

TOTAL (all out; 15.5 overs) 118

Fall of wickets1-1, 2-21, 3-21 , 4-45, 5-68, 6-93, 7-107, 8-113, 9-118, 10-118

Bowling: B Lee 2 0 10 2 (1nb, 1w), SPD Smith 4 0 32 2 (1w), DE Bollinger 4 0 27 1(1nb, 2w), SR Clark 3.5 0 21 3, NM Hauritz 2 0 23 2 (1nb).

NSW won by 41 runs.

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