Slugfest with interesting possibilities

Cricket: The Champions League T20, beginning today, can have a big impact on the sport

Slugfest with interesting possibilities

If that happens, you will see club cricket seriously challenging the international cricket for the first time in history in terms of money, air-time, sponsorship and above all fans’ attention. The success of the inaugural edition of the Champions League could also turn the now nascent ideas like freelance cricketer, football-like club allegiance and a tighter worldwide cricketing community into a reality.

The freelance cricketer concept has already found an advocate in Andrew Flintoff, who recently turned down the England central contract. His colleague Kevin Pietersen also has indicated the possibility of more players taking a similar route in the future and West Indian Dwayne Bravo has said he would consider the money factor before committing to a central contract with WICB. So, the Champions League could open up the possibility of multiple owners for players.

A jarring point of this development could be that many cricketers might not find it interesting to play in less significant tours, forcing the respective boards to field second string teams.

A closely-knit cricketing community of fans and players could be a far more immediate possibility than players severing their allegiance with boards.
Anil Kumble hinted at the possibility. “Yes, the cricket world is becoming global and we get to play with a larger pool of players. It can make the exchange of ideas much easier and quicker,” Kumble said.

Another plus point of the Champions League, beginning on Thursday, is the exposure for domestic players from all cricketing nations. If the Indian Premier League brought to light the Indian domestic talent, the CL could do that to unheralded players from all seven participating countries who will be turning out for 12 teams.

International feel

“It’s good to see players who normally play domestic competitions get an international feel. Now these players get more exposure, so that the base is changing.

“Earlier, we have heard only about international players. Now, with the emergence of concepts like IPL and CL their performances are going to get recognised and these tournaments are a good platform for them to grab higher honours,” Rahul Dravid said.
This is not to say that the next 16 days will have a flashflood effect on the cricketing landscape. Dravid emphasised that point. “This is going to take time. Many English Premier League clubs are in existence over a hundred years. Some of those clubs have loyalties for generations like the fathers passing on season tickets to children.

“The concepts like IPL have come into existence only two years ago. But when more and more cricket is played in Bangalore and when RCB do well I am sure people will come out and support us. But, to be honest, it will take time and we should give that time to these concepts,” he said. 

Cricket, then, will certainly be entertaining over the next 16 days, but beneath the ripples you will discover the slow currents of change.

DH News Service

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