x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Not in the right league

If you think that sounds like a cosy old boys' network, then you are right. And despite the increase in the number of IPL sides, the event still has to catch on with the TV audience.

The T20 Champions League started two days after the World Cup. Lee Warren / Getty Images
The T20 Champions League started two days after the World Cup. Lee Warren / Getty Images

Less than 48 hours after the final of the World Twenty20 in Colombo, the caravan has moved to South Africa and an event touted as the answer to football's Champions League when it began in 2009.

In reality, there is very little similarity between football's Champions League and the cricket version.

Despite the fact it is heavily loaded in favour of the richer clubs from England, Spain and Italy, the tournament is still based on excellence in domestic leagues.

If certain countries like England and Spain have more teams in the main draw, it is only because clubs from there have done better than those from elsewhere over the past few seasons. No such criteria exist in cricket's Champions League, with the qualifying system changed on a whim to suit the interests of the Indian Premier League.

When it was initially envisaged, the idea was to have two teams apiece from India, South Africa and Australia in the main draw.

These days, four IPL sides go straight into the tournament proper, along with two each from South Africa and Australia. It is no coincidence that the boards of these countries are the stakeholders for the event.

The rest of the world has to qualify. For the champions of Pakistan, England, West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, there are just two qualifying spots available. The best sides from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are not even given the opportunity to qualify.

If you think that sounds like a cosy old boys' network, then you are right. And despite the increase in the number of IPL sides, the event still has to catch on with the TV audience.

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