What’s holding back IPL teams in CLT20?

2012-10-20 16:20

Most continental football competitions are for the champions of their respective leagues.

In some countries, such as Spain and England, the bench strength of the runners-up allows those countries to have several slots, while all sides will still be competitive.

Cricket though, is not as popular and it is often restricted to England’s former colonies.

And just as in football, the colonies have taken turns in pummelling the mother country.

Case in point is the Champions League T20, which is the most competitive quasi-national tournament outside of the Champions Trophy, which involves the Test countries.

It seems the boot is now being stuck into the Indian Premier League (IPL) sides.

They have won the tournament more than any of the other sides, aside from when the New South Wales Blues broke the hegemony in 2010.

They even won it on South African soil when the Chennai Super Kings were in their element.

But things have now changed a bit.

One might say it is too early in the tournament to start judging the teams, but three matches into the festival it is clear the qualifying format was flawed.

Of all the teams that needed the extra time in the middle, the IPL squads would have benefited most.

Since they are part of the stew that brings in the biggest slice of the television market, they had to be in the main tourney automatically, but they’re there at the expense of good cricket.

The folly of chasing TV ratings, even though it is the biggest money source, has seen the teams playing the night matches to suit their audience’s hours, but this has more than once backfired on them.

This is not to say that they are not quality sides.

Any team that contains a Brendon McCullum, Albie Morkel, Sachin Tendulkar and Kieron Pollard can pulverise any domestic side.

Put that side together with a patchwork of local players on flat subcontinental pitches and you could have a potent combination.

But now cue the Kolkata Knight Riders, who will have an early flight home after two early losses and a washout.

Bouncy early season tracks, despite Titans coach Matthew Maynard saying they may lack the mid-season pace that keeps batsmen hopping, have put IPL sides on the back foot.

SuperSport Park has been on the slow side, but a green Wanderers’ track bounced the life out of the Indian squads.

While they may have enjoyed the pace, the wickets have hardly slowed, as shown by the Highveld Lions’ consecutive muggings of the Mumbai Indians and the Super Kings while chasing.

Provincial sides, whether they have the same number of superstars as their richer counterparts, have the advantage of team unity and preparation.

Whether an IPL side takes the title or not, they have been shown up as too top-heavy, brimming with internationals, but lacking the depth they need with quality Indian domestic players.

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