Champions League Twenty20: Why cricket should copy football

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With international cricket in a state of turmoil, the current Champions League series being played in South Africa makes one think of perhaps a different future for the game we love. WCW columnist Jeremy Loadman, among others, has written about the connection between match-fixing and the amount of meaningless cricket played, and this argument certainly has merit. Another reason given is that some countries reward their players far less than others, and that access to sponsorship is also eschewed. One possible way out of this quagmire is the franchise team form of cricket, currently being played at the Champions League Twenty20. By taking a leaf out of world football’s book, perhaps cricket can move forward in a positive way.

World football has a situation where the majority of games are at a club level, with certain times set aside for ‘internationals’ and of course the World Cup. Within the club level there are usually a variety of leagues in different countries, as well as cup competitions, such as the FA Cup, and then the Champions League, which takes place in Asia as well as Europe. What the club system provides world football is both a format where there are very few ‘meaningless’ games, as well as a strong revenue stream, as teams are traditionally linked to cities or suburbs, where sponsors can get a specialised message across to prospective consumers.

The champions league, not unlike the current one being played by cricketing teams in South Africa, is meant to be the top teams from a particular area battling it out for the ultimate glory. Not many people remember who won last years top division in France, but most remember that Inter Milan took out the European Champions League. This format is very popular.

In terms of international games, other than friendlies, all games in world football matter. They are either qualifiers for regional competitions, such as the European Cup, or for the World Cup. Again I stress, these games have a purpose. As such, the nations involved are always striving to do their best.

So, what are the lessons for world cricket? Obviously the situation is different, as cricket has three major forms of the game that must be accommodated, and as yet, the only form that has franchised clubs is T20. But if I were to play devil’s advocate I’d call on the ICC to ponder the following propositions:

  1. Get rid of 50 over cricket. It has no purpose anymore, and just means there is TOO MUCH cricket played, which can lead to problems regarding match-fixing.
  2. Formalise club T20 cricket under the ICC banner and adopt the FIFA model in terms of internationals. No match, other than the occasional friendly, should be without meaning. They should all have some kind of significance in relation to regional or world cup competitions.
  3. Promote the ICL as the top limited overs form of the game. Increase the prestige and the money being payed to all players. This will give great incentive for players to perform at their best
  4. Create a test cricket championship. All games should have a bearing on a year-on-year table, with two levels of competition. Like world football’s cup competitions, teams would occasionally play nations from the other division, but primarily games would be played within each division. Then award a yearly test championship cup.

This is just a start, but cricket can learn a lot from football, and perhaps introducing ideas such as these will get the conversation started. One thing is for certain; cricket can not continue to patch up its almost completely destructed image. It has to change, and it has to change now.

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  1. dfghjkl says

    Obviously you posted this before the World Cup in the sub continent started, but I think looking back this tournament could be seen as the revival of the 50 over form of the game, so maybe you would reconsider point number 1. Overall though, you are correct, there’s just too much cricket being played. Did anyone really want to sit through 7 ODIs after the ashes, or the 7 (I think it was 7) England played with Pakistan last september. These long series especially become a problem if one team dominates, as you are left with potentially 3 dead rubbers in a series that didn’t mean a lot to begin with.

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