The Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) was an international T20 cricket tournament that was contested by the best club teams from various cricket-playing nations. The multi-national tournament was inspired by European club football’s competition, UEFA Champions League, which is considered to be the pinnacle of club football.
CLT20 was first held in 2009 and was jointly owned by the cricket boards of India, Australia, and South Africa. It was designed to be a showcase event for the best T20 teams from around the world, featuring champions and runner-ups of various franchise T20 leagues around the world.
The brainchild of Indian Premier League’s (IPL) founder, Lalit Modi, CLT20 had a reputation for producing high-quality cricket, with many of the world’s best T20 players competing against each other.
The tournament which had a lukewarm reception early on gained immense popularity after a few seasons as teams from neighboring countries, Pakistan and India, took part in the tournament despite the two sides not facing off against each other in international cricket.
Pakistani teams were not a part of the tournament during the first few years but they joined the tournament in the 2012 edition as tensions between Pakistan and India cooled down a bit.
Reasons Behind Discontinuation
The tournament was discontinued after the 2014 edition due to a lack of public interest and financial sustainability. Another factor was the reluctance of some cricket boards to release their players for the tournament due to concerns over player workload and injury.
Additionally, the scheduling of the CLT20 was also a challenge, as it was held at the end of the cricket season, which made it difficult for players to participate due to fatigue and injuries. As a result, many of the top T20 players were not available to participate in the tournament, which impacted its overall quality.
Another major factor was that the tournament was not bringing in the big bucks as expected, majorly due to the lack of competition as the gap in quality between the IPL teams and teams from other countries was too large. At that time, IPL was the leading franchise T20 tournament in the world, while other countries did not have a franchise league of that standard.
Despite its short lifespan, the CLT20 played an important role in promoting T20 cricket and providing a platform for domestic T20 champions to showcase their skills on the world stage.
Why Should it be Brought Back?
As times have changed, other franchise T20 tournaments have gained some ground on the IPL in terms of the quality of the players, while plenty of franchise T20 leagues have also been created since then.
The emergence of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has been a major factor, with the tournament establishing itself as one of the best in the world. Other franchise leagues including the SA20, Lanka Premier League (LPL), and ILT20 have also been established since then.
The cricketing calendar these days is primarily dominated by franchise T20 leagues around the world. With each passing year, the window for the IPL keeps increasing, with a two-and-a-half-month window for the tournament expected to be confirmed for the next few years.
Similarly, windows for Big Bash League (BBL) and The Hundred, are also set to be made separately. It all makes sense to create a further two-week window to create a competition for the champions from the various T20 leagues around the world.
In addition to this, the public interest in the tournament will be at an all-time high with the popularity of franchise T20 cricket increasing day by day. Now, who wouldn’t want to watch a match between Lahore Qalandars and Mumbai Indians, or the Knight Riders Derby between Trinbago Knight Riders and Kolkata Knight Riders (I wouldn’t want to be the owner in this position though)?
The best teams from across the world facing off for the title of the best team, and effectively the best league, in the world, will make for an exciting competition.
One issue that will arise is the clash of the players who play for various teams around the world. The likes of Rashid Khan, who plays for Lahore Qalandars, Gujarat Titans, MI Cape Town, MI Emirates, and plenty of other teams, will have to represent a single team in the competition. But this too could be very well figured out through the players’ preferences and contract negotiations with the teams.
It’s not like we haven’t seen football players going out on loan and knocking their original club out of the tournament (Coutinho for Bayern Munich against Barcelona is a high-profile one that comes to mind).
In conclusion, the Champions League T20 could prove to be a game-changer in the current cricket environment and could very well prove to be the pinnacle of franchise T20 cricket.
What do you think? Should CLT20 be brought back? Write down your suggestions below!