Champions League Twenty20 Preview

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tim-mathiasWorld Cricket Watch will be bringing you reports from the heart of the action as our roving reporter Tim Mathias is in India taking in the sights and getting swept along by this cricket mad nation. He continues to pursue his dream of publishing his ongoing research on the evolution of Indian cricket, from ‘Cultural Supremacy to Cricketing Swadeshi’ and the Champions League is the next logical step.


Champions League Kicks-off Amid Typical Indian Fanfare

championsleaguetwenty202The Airtel Champions League kicks off on Thursday night, with the organisers promising the ‘most extensive half hour of entertainment ever conceived and executed in India’ with a ‘breath taking visual extravaganza of international acts’.  Like any international sporting event, there is a requirement for an elaborate display of lights, visual arts and general fanfare to declare the start of two weeks of the latest and most unique Twenty20 competition to date.

Each of the twelve competing captains will exchange team flags and take the ‘MCC Spirit of Cricket’ oath, and then ceremonially leave their handprints in clay, ‘as an attestation to play the game within the spirit of cricket’.  The past weeks have been a showcase of goodwill and sporting gesture within the Champions Trophy.  Andrew Strauss recalled Angelo Matthews to the crease following the Sri Lankan’s collision and subsequential run out whilst attempting a second run.  Daniel Vettori over-ruled the run out of Paul Collingwood as the England batsmen strolled down the wicket to do a bit of gardening.  Even Younis Khan got in on the act, crucially dropping a sitter from Grant Elliot, causing a stir amid claims of match fixing and derision from the Pakistani government.

The opening ceremony’s entertainment will begin with twelve Japanese drummers, followed by international dancers in ‘Michelle Ferranti’s’ costumes. The event will feature Chaka Khan and Shaggy, and then swiftly deviate to ‘Cube Artists’ from China, choreographed by Shaolin Monks.  Featuring Tai Chi, Kung-fu and Chi Yung movements in an ‘adrenalin-packed sequence’, the ‘audience will be left spellbound as it will depict the aggression and spirit with which the competition will be played’.

In equal measure, the audience within the ground and those watching on television will be left thoroughly confused. Surely a short speech, a cutting of the ribbon will do?  Perhaps a firework or two and glass of bubbly?

No. This is India, and this is new modern consumer India, with the ‘Garden City of Bengaluru’ (Bangalore) set to be the ‘epicentre of Indian and global cricket’ as the Airtel Champions League Twenty20 begins on Thursday night.

India has relished the opportunity to hold international events, and continue to do so, with the annual IPL and the Commonwealth games forthcoming in 2010. Most notably, the 1996 cricket World Cup was wrestled from England, with India promising larger cash incentives for the associate members of the ICC, through lucrative sponsorship and television deals.  The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s President at the time, IS Bindra, declared ‘we want to prove to the rest of the world that whatever they can do, we can do better’. The vision for the tournament was in keeping with India’s policy of economic globalisation, ‘Swadeshi’, a term meaning ones own country within an approach that is pro-globalisation and simutaneoulsy pro-Indian. Cricket affords the opportunity to merge sport and foreign investment to target the burgeoning India consumer market.

The Champions League is not just cricket, it is a singing, dancing, Bollywood, business bonanza. Adding an extra bit of spice to the event, the cast of ‘Blue’, India’s most expensive film to date will be making special appearances at the grounds throughout the tournament.

And the opening ceremony? A sure-fire introduction and statement of intent to the cricketing world, that the CLT20 will be as big as any cricketing competition held before.  Here’s hoping the cricketing action is as spectacular and extravagant.

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