T20 event to bring a welcome diversion for cricket fans

2010-09-08 00:00

IF you’re a cricket fan like me, it’s been a painful couple of weeks. In the wake of spot-betting allegations, which hint at just scratching the surface, it’s been tough to sit back and watch cricket’s name being dragged through the gutter.

Pakistan cricket is in crisis with three of its players suspended by the International Cricket Council and under investigation. At least half-a-dozen international cricketers have admitted to being approached by bookies.

Scotland can’t decide whether to tour Zimbabwe or not on political grounds and just to make my day, Kevin Pietersen has been showing his true colours. His recent Twitter tirade, proof of his inability to adapt to any form of social media, has justifiably earned him a fine from the English Cricket Board.

Dimitri Mascarenhas, captain of Pietersen’s former county Hampshire, has also been hauled over the coals for comments he made on the same social networking site about England national selector Geoff Miller. Let’s face it, things in the cricketing world are looking pretty bleak and it’s about time cricket made headlines for the right reasons.

The Airtel Champions League T20 tournament gets underway in SA on Friday and may help to do just that. With a purse of R47 million, it is world cricket’s most lucrative tournament.

Even though it’s not an ICC tournament, the ICC can ill afford to take any chances and are sending in the heavyweights. Robust anti-corruption and security measures will be in place with security agents and officers attached to every team and guarantees that every single cricketer will take to the field fully educated about the consequences of match fixing.

A number of Protea players will be representing their IPL sides in the tournament. The Warriors and the Lions join franchises from Australia, the West Indies, New Zealand, the IPL and Sri Lanka.

With the Protea conditioning camps recently completed, the Champions League T20 provides a golden opportunity for South African cricketers to put in some good performances and catch the eye of the selectors before the season really gets underway.

Justin Kemp and Albie Morkel will represent the Chennai Super Kings under captain MS Dhoni. Both players have slipped off the selectors’ radar of late and will be determined to make the most of their chances in their preferred 20/20 format.

JP Duminy and Ryan McLaren will turn out for the Mumbai Indians under Sachin Tendulkar. Duminy desperately needs some form to secure a more permanent place in the Protea line-up.

Jaques Kallis, Dale Steyn and Dillon Du Preez take to the field for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, led by Anil Kumble. With 23 games in just 17 days, the Champions League tournament will provide ideal pre-season preparation and the perfect curtain raiser for the upcoming season.

The Indians are coming to SA in December. This will surely provide a welcome diversion from the woes of world cricket. It’s time to get excited about cricket again.

* Neil Johnson is a former Natal, WP and Zimbabwe all-rounder who lives and coaches in Pietermaritzburg.

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