It is amidst intense scrutiny that the Champions League T20 will begin its newest season, this year. Thanks to the frenzy that the spot-fixing incidents created in the IPL, there’s no doubt that the international T20 tournament would be subject to a lot of wariness and even scepticisms about its clarity and transparency.
Though there’s no denying that the CLT20 will take precedence amongst cricketing action for nearly three weeks, these scheduled three weeks will no doubt be tumultuous to say the least. Especially since two of the three Indian teams that are in the CLT20 fray were caught in the backdrop of allegations and findings about players and team management personnel involved in the spot-fixing saga.
The embroilment surrounding the teams and the players then may not seem to be as intense as it was a few months ago, but fact remains that underneath all the gaiety and splendour that the event heralds; there abounds a complication that still hasn’t been addressed in the fullest of manners. And this is yet another reason that has accounted for the wariness and the cynicisms amongst the crowds.
As entertaining as T20 cricket is – both in terms of such non-official tournaments and the ones organised by the ICC – the perception amongst its wide circle of audiences has definitely changed with regard to players’ intentions and sincerity. Though only Indian players emerged to be the culprits in the spot-fixing scandal, the shadow of the late 90s loomed even larger as the past started to echo amongst the present. One wondered whether the present would take the sport into deeper mire with repercussions far more lingering and detrimental than the tainted past. Considering that even team owners were found to be involved – though they were later cleared by the BCCI-established committee– the blight surrounding the game seemed to be even darker, demeaning the sport right to its very dregs.
If the audience attention towards the CLT20 lessens considerably, it would then be of no surprise. But rather an expected consequence, more like a continuation of the IPL saga that left the whole nation – including the senior-most players – reeling. And though expectations would be still on the higher side amongst the Indians considering that the defending champions would be an Indian team – Mumbai Indians; the aura of favouritism that the other two teams would have otherwise enjoyed would be indeed muted substantially. There again, while the likes of Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni may escape the harshest of the audiences’ doubts, the fact that the sword of Damocles still hangs over their teams’ head – considering the clash between the BCCI-appointed committee and the Indian courts – is a potential raison d’être enough for the crowds to step back and away from being associated with them.
Thus it begs to come up with the question about whether in the prurient interest of the game the Champions League T20 ought to have been postponed to a later date or; perhaps to the next year, rather than precariously balancing it on top of a quite unbalanced sporting equation. Doing so would have also meant that the BCCI would have had time to appropriately deal with the situation rather than abruptly conceal it underneath the proverbial carpet as the matter seems to be handled presently. The other teams would have been indeed affected as would have been the entire international cricketing scheduling, but there wouldn’t be exactly complaints milling about if one of the major cricketing nations has a huge problem to sort out, but rather than doing so chooses to proceed with the existing status quo. The delay in the scheduling of the CLT20 would have thus also allowed the BCCI to come up with the laid-out, prospective measures to stem its cricket from further derogation.
That the scheduling of CLT20 has been intact with no change in its itinerary goes to prove where exactly do the managing officials’ priorities lie. It’s a sad acknowledgment then that the sport and the format would continue to be in limbo instead of being subjected to a meticulous and well-thought clean-up plan of action.