What an odd beast this Champions League T20 competition is. Disparate teams from far-fetched lands converging on the subcontinent to thrash out some hard-hitting performances to win the cash prizes…hmmm…the cricketing elders must truly loathe it. Perhaps the best example of the absurdity of this legitimately enjoyable tournament is the presence of Dimitri Masarenhas. Now, it is certainly not odd that Dimi is at the tournament; he is truly a superb T20 specialist. No the oddness of his presence is largely to do with the truly bizarre nature of this tournament…confused? I’ll explain.
Dimitri Mascarenhas was born in Sri Lanka, brought up in Australia, and yes is an Englishman. Now, in this globally fluid society that is not that weird, but the fact that this man, who can legitimately call three nations ‘home’, is representing Otago (New Zealand) in a competition played in India, is certainly puzzling. Such is the nature of the T20 age. It was the other night, when I was watching Dimi and his Otago ‘teammates’ battle against the Cape(town) Cobras that it really struck me. What the hell was going on??!!?? Through the history of cricket, competition has been pitted nation versus nation, or domestic state versus domestic state, and this has made perfect sense. Even situations such as Dimi playing for England, or indeed Keppler Wessels playing for both South Africa and Australia, made sense, because they were representing their country of origin or citizenship. But a Sri Lankan/Aussie/Pom playing for Otago in India versus South Africans is just too much!
Even the crowds at these games seem a little bemused. It was one thing to watch players from around the world ‘represent’ Indian IPL teams. At least there was a connection, as they were playing in India, although that said, the latest IPL was strange as it was in South Africa. But for some reason this current competition seems even weirder. The crowds don’t really know who they’re rooting for, the commentators don’t really know why they should get excited, and the players only really get excited if they know they’re in with a shot of winning. If it’s too hard, then they won’t worry. That’s because they’ll get a pretty good payday just for being there, and what makes players really try to perform is a sense of pride in their team. When Brett Lee has the baggy green cap on his head, he’ll bowl until he falls over, because he has a sense of pride. But players fronting up in a country that is foreign, to play for a foreign team, that has no connection to where they are playing, aren’t going to hustle if they feel that it’ll be too much work. You might ask why not? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because they know that if they work too hard, then they might get injured or over-tired, and therefore not be picked again, and they’ll lose their source of income. If we continue to go down the path of cricketers as mercenaries, then we’re sure to have more problems such as this happening over and over again.
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