Advertisement
Saturday, Nov 27, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Cricket

Birth Of Another League

"Who knows, the baby that's born tonight might become a healthy, strong youth soon," Harsha Bhogle said on the night of October 23, moments after the draw of the inaugural Champions League was unveiled.

Birth Of Another League
Birth Of Another League
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

"Who knows, the baby that's born tonight might become a healthy, strong youth soon," Harsha Bhogle said on the night of October 23, moments after the draw of the inaugural Champions League was unveiled.

Having helped in the birth of the said baby -- a product of the alliance between the BCCI, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa -- Bhogle was naturally optimistic about its prospects.

The ceremony was suitably glittering, not bereft of VIP power -- Sharad Pawar was there, as was Praful Patel, making for his belated arrival with long strides to Pawar's proximity. Big boys from the ICC and the MCC were there. Greats like Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Majid Khan, Barry Richards, Ian Chappell were there, masters from the past, all at the altar of the game's new god, Twenty20 cricket. Also present was Steve Waugh, flown in from Australia for the tricky task of picking a bat out of a glass bowl and peeling a sticker off it to reveal a name of a team in the Champions League.

Most conspicuous, by their Greek god-like bearing and a curious blush of embarrassment, were the members of the current Australian team; barely two days after the frightful hiding they got at Mohali, they were using words like "great", "amazing" and "fantastic" about the Champions League, but with some coyness. They know Twenty20 is inescapable, inestimably desirable tamasha that brings in the Porsche to the garage, but that the pinnacle of the game is Test cricket.

There were funny moments -- Shoaib Malik, the captain of Sialkot Stallions, was a bit fearful about his team's prospects because "seven of our players have gone to the (rebel) Indian Cricket League". Matthew Hayden, mostly mournful, declared that his cooking was better than his batting these days. Watson was asked if he's enjoying it here -- but that was not the right question, with Mohali wounds still dripping blood. "We were embraced in the Indian Premier League, and we hope we'll be embraced in the Champions League," Watson replied. "And maybe Test cricket too…"

Harsha Bhogle told Lalit Modi, the Champions League commissioner, that "Twenty20 is your baby", and Modi denied the allegation with alacrity: "No, it was invented by someone in England!"

Fast bowler Charl Langeveldt declared that bowlers exist in Twenty20 cricket only to get it started, and Ishant Sharma agreed -- it felt like one was hearing sheep at an abattoir admiring the keen edge of the knife in the butcher's hands. Fast bowlers, terrors from ancient times, have been tamed -- they discussed whether six an over or 6.5 runs an over was respectable in Twenty20 cricket. I shudder when I imagine Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner having this discussion, which would have come to pass if they'd arrived 30 years later than they did.

The draw was a long-drawn affair, a ceremony that could have been over in a few minutes stretched to well over an hour by some deft jaw-work and presentation of awards to champion Twenty20 performers from around the globe -- well, from around five countries.

Finally, representative players were called on stage to declare that Champions League was the best thing to happen to cricket in a long time. Hayden and Watson and Michael Hussey seemed to proclaim it with cheer that was synthetic -- with some reluctance, even pain -- for Mohali is too recent a past.

But the good news is that a baby's been born, and its guardians promise a "high decibel multimedia campaign" to convince everyone that it's got great expectations, that it's going to rule the world some day. Amen.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Roses Among Thorns: The Many Solidarities Of Diverse Protests

Roses Among Thorns: The Many Solidarities Of Diverse Protests

Every act of dissent is an art. Of pain and pathos. Of hope and new dawn. It’s their story. It’s everyone’s story.

Jai Kisan: Success Of Farmers' Protest Proves The Strength Of Their Convictions

Jai Kisan: Success Of Farmers' Protest Proves The Strength Of Their Convictions

Farmers’ movement reaffirms that peasants are makers of their own rebellion.

Pragmatic Shreyas Iyer Wants To 'Stay In The Moment,' Not Thinking Of Kohli’s Return

Pragmatic Shreyas Iyer Wants To 'Stay In The Moment,' Not Thinking Of Kohli’s Return

Shreyas Iyer scored a century on debut in the first IND vs NZ Test in Kanpur. It remains to be seen whether Iyer will play when Virat Kohli returns for the Mumbai Test.

Machimar Nagar: The Fishermen’s Colony;  An Entry Gate For 26/11 Terrorists

Machimar Nagar: The Fishermen’s Colony; An Entry Gate For 26/11 Terrorists

13 years ago on this day, eight terrorists from Pakistan arrived by sea on the shores of this fishermen colony-Machchimar Nagar, to launch an attack in India’s financial capital.

Advertisement