Defending IPL, former Indian cricket captain Sunil Gavaskar on Wednesday rubbished talks of the cash-rich Indian Premier League being the reason behind the scrapping of Champions League T20.
The suspension of IPL sides Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals and the scrapping of CLT20 happened in a span of 24 hours.
“There is 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,” Gavaskar, who had once served as BCCI’s interim chief, told ‘NDTV’.
The dipping popularity of CLT20, an event comprising top IPL sides and various T20 winners from across the globe and which began in 2009, is the reason behind its scrapping. Gavaskar though is unable to explain the reason behind the shut down of what he thought was a fantastic tournament.
“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 why a tournament like Champions League hasn’t been able to generate the same kind of interest,” he said.
“Maybe a different format could have been tried with two groups of five teams each and maybe something like that could have worked,” he added.
Gavaskar believed that the motivation to win their respective domestic tournaments for gaining a CLT20 berth, will no longer be there for top T20 sides of the world.
“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,” he said.
West Indian players Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard rose to fame through their performances for their domestic side in CLT20 and later made it big for their respective IPL franchises. Gavaskar felt such world talent will be difficult to spot with the end of CLT20.
“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,” he said.
“But the Sunil Narine’s and the Kieron Pollard’s 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.
An alternate tournament like the mini-IPL is said to be in the pipeline to fill the CLT20 window and Gavaskar is all game about it.
“In cricket and especially in T20 cricket anything is feasible. But the speciality of the IPL is that it is a six week tournament with an home and away format that leads the teams into the knockout stages,” he said.
“So the IPL builds up gradually, while in 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 added.