Post Mortem- Champions League T20
T20 cricket has been symbolized as a doze of cricket and entertainment with a blend of music, dance, and the game reaching a crescendo a zillion times in the abridged format. All this put together has resulted in what we call cricketainment, which was first witnessed in the inaugural T20 world cup , gained serious momentum in the IPL and CLT20 was an experiment to expand its horizon.
CLT20 was also an attempt to take club cricket international with the top teams in the T20 format from 6 countries, Australia, Newzealand, South Africa, India, West Indies, Sri lanka gathered to fight it out and see who is real the champion of champions. The road to discovery of the champions of champions led to reminisce of the past with the Trinidad & Tobago (T&T ) team exhibiting the true West Indian style of cricket which has been become a chapter preserved in cricketing history until now. T&T brand of cricket was a revelation not only for the cricketing fraternity but it won a lot Indian hearts where fans came in numbers in Hyderabad and cheered for them just like the West Indies team of the 70s and 80s.
The captain of T&T team summed it quite well when he said that they were playing for their country while the others were playing for their states while commenting on their emotional behavior on the pitch. All this amidst the turmoil in the west indies cricket administration. They wanted to prove a point and they dam well did !
The New South Wales team from Australia did manage to clinch the cup with a clinical performance in the final. Cricket was a winner in the tournament. The IPL teams disappointed one and all by failing to qualify for the semi-finals. The cricket pundits illustrated that the IPL sides hardly play together as compared to their counterparts in the tournament who have been playing together since weeks, months and seasons to form teams that reinforce unity and spirit. While the IPL sides comprise of dashers, international stars and some local talent that promised a lot due to their exhibition of showmanship in the IPL but failed to deliver it in the CLT20. RCB were pick of the IPL teams , with a more inspired and consistent bowling and fielding performance they could have gone much further into the tournament.
Their star performers were Ross Taylor who tailored his batting abilities perfectly with exquisite stroke play to become one of the crowd favourites , Robin Uttapa too hit some lusty blows to notch useful runs in the tournament and the old wily fox Anil Kumble manifested once again why he is the one of the most respected cricketers in the world
What was the final verdict on the inaugural Champions League T20 ?
Verdict for CLT20 in cricketing terms: 4 stars
Verdict for CLT20 commercially: 2 stars
Verdict for RCB: 3 stars
In cricketing terms the tournament was a success with a display of passion and earnest desire to win among the teams that were competing for the first time against unknown opponents and in unknown conditions making the contest more challenging and endearing for them. In todays times where too much cricket has resulted in many matches being predictable and tournaments being familiar and blunt, this one witnessed the flair of the windies, clinical performance from aussies and honest cricket from the south Africans. If not anything the teams manifested a hunger to win which was clearly evident in the manner which they played on the field. They fought tooth and nail making the tournament alive and full of twists and turns with the brand of cricket on display.
But the questions is did the crowds come in ? did the advertisers get what they wanted? Did the tournament justify the $975 billion investment on part of the broadcaster.
Its time for some hard numbers :
The tournament managed to garner average TVRs of 1-1.5 leaving most advertisers aggrieved and unsure about this property.
The crowds were sparse to say the least especially in Delhi where most matches were played with empty stadiums. And with no Indian teams advancing to the semi-finals did not help the cause much.
A true optimist would still say the Champions T20 league is an exciting concept which is new and would take some time to evolve and mature. Comparisons to the much more successful IPL has played a spoiler and had risen expectations on all fronts leading to overshooting valuations of high acquisition costs and subsequent high ad rates which would definitely see some serious correction next time round.