Who were the four semi-finalists of this year’s Champions League T20? If – like most people reading this – you’re currently sat scratching your head, it may have something to do with the fact that English clubs were once again absent from the tournament.
The scheduling of the competition clashes with the culmination of the English county season, meaning that Yorkshire were the last representatives from these isles to compete back in the 2012 edition.
Whilst the ECB stands firm on not allowing sides to miss the final few weeks of the season to play in the tournament, the experience of participating against some of the best players in the world could only be a good thing for the English game.
The answer to the aforementioned questioned – in case you were still wondering – was Hobart Hurricanes, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings,
with the latter winning their second title on home soil.
It goes to show the dominance of the IPL franchises in a competition that is administrated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa.
In fact, only two of those countries – India and South Africa – have hosted the six versions of the Champions League between them.
Nevertheless, there is often good quality cricket played, with Suresh Raina scoring a century in the final to win the tournament for Chennai, whilst their opponents, Kolkata, had
to deal with the controversy of losing Sunil Narine to a ban just before the final was played.
For the majority of English county cricketers, the opportunity to play against the likes of Jacques Kallis or Hashim Amla doesn’t come around very often. And for those players who
are unlikely to get an international call-up, playing in the Champions League is their best chance to do just that.
Only Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire have ever progressed through to the group stages of the tournament, whilst the west country county showed they could hold their own by
reaching the semi-final in 2011.
On the way to the final four they faced Kallis, Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga, which was surely a worthwhile experience for the club and especially its younger players.
The central focus on India, with the country hosting four tournaments and providing as many winners, is certainly a reason why the English can feel alienated by the tournament.
In addition, recent Champions Leagues have been held in September, meaning that there is a calendar clash with the closing weeks of the county cricket season.
That provides a dilemma for the ECB, who do not want to cheapen their own competitions by allowing sides to leave early in order to compete against teams from around the world.
But if the competition was to return to an October date, then it is possible that we will see T20 Blast finalists taking part on one of the biggest stages in world club cricket, which can only have a positive effect on the sides that take part.