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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Hard to say why CLT20 did not generate IPL-like interest: Gavaskar

Hard to say why CLT20 did not generate IPL-like interest: Gavaskar

Last updated on: July 15, 2015 20:54 IST

Sunil Narine bowls

West Indian players like Sunil Narine (above right) rose to fame through performances for their domestic sides in CLT20 and later made it big in the IPL. Photograph: BCCI

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar dismissed talk of the cash-rich Indian Premier League being the reason behind Champions League T20 being scrapped, saying “there’s no connection” between the two events.

"There’s no connection. I think completely different... the Champions League has four teams from the Indian Premier League, three teams get direct entry, the fourth team has to play the qualifier and there are two teams from Australia, two from South Africa; so I don't think anything to do with the IPL would have had an effect on the championship," he said.

The announcement to discontinue Champions League T20 came a day after Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were banned from the IPL for betting activities of their key officials, Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra, during the 2013 season of cash-rich Twenty20 cricket tournament.

The Champions League Twenty20 tournament, run since 2009 by the cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa, was scrapped with immediate effect, citing lack of interest.

Anurag Thakur, the honorary secretary at the Board of Control for Cricket in India said, “Unfortunately, off the field, Champions League T20 wasn't sustaining the interest of the fans as we had hoped.

"This decision was made after consultation with all our commercial partners and meeting the contractual obligations of all parties involved."

Gavaskar was, however, unable to explain the reason behind winding up a tournament he thought was fantastic.

"It was pretty much like the T20 leagues all over the world, which are very popular. Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the Australian Big Bash are very well followed and even the T20 leagues in England and New Zealand. It's hard to put a finger on why a tournament like Champions League hasn't been able to generate the same kind of interest.

"Maybe, a different format could have been tried with two groups of five teams each and maybe something like that could have worked," he said.

He was of the view that the teams' motivation to win their respective domestic tournaments in order to seal a berth in CLT20 will no longer be there.

"Champions League is a very, very lucrative tournament for the non-Indian franchises. And, therefore, they (the foreign teams) were very keen to win their domestic tournaments to qualify for the CLT20. So with that incentive being taken away, the importance of winning, with all the leagues in the world, will just be diminished,"

Launched by BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa in 2008, the competition offered a highly lucrative prize pool of $6 million, with $2.5 million going to the winners.

It brought together teams from the India Premier League, Australia's Big Bash League, South Africa's Ram Slam T20 Challenge and Caribbean Premier League along with other qualifiers.

"I think Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, these were the guys who came through the Champions League T20 and certainly it's not going to be easy for the Indian franchises to find talent which is not a known talent.

"There will be a lot of known guys who will be playing international T20 for their countries, they will obviously be in the spotlight, but the Sunil Narines and the Kieron Pollards who haven't played for the West Indies by virtue of what they did in the inaugural tournament have now become fabulous performers in the IPL and over the world.

“So with the cancellation of the Champions League we will probably not see those players, those unknown players who have not represented their country, he added.

Gavaskar felt an alternate tournament like a mini-IPL could fill the void that CLT20 will leave.

"In cricket, and especially in T20 cricket, anything is feasible. But the specialty of the IPL is that it is a six-week tournament with an home-and-away format that leads the teams into the knock-out stages.

"So the IPL builds up gradually. In a mini-IPL the build-up time will be very little, so I am not sure how will that work. But I do believe that the window needs to be used, otherwise some other event will take over that window," he opined.

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