Another cricket tournament, another televised event and another excuse for the ‘passionate’ Indian fan to sit in front of the idiot box watching ‘their’ teams slug it out against some of the ‘big’ international teams. The Champions’ LeagueT20 started earlier this week tendering a proposition to watch India compete with the rest of the world. With a change in title sponsor, the league in its third avatar, was already being looked at with a raised brow by marketers, fans and the pundits alike.
The trouble with this inter club T20 tournament has been its imagery and the subsequent acceptance with the world’s biggest cricket-watching community. Unlike the IPL which rode the ‘tamasha cricket’ hype and entered prime time viewing, competing and then somewhat overhauling the GEC brigade, its international big brother couldn’t quite make it. Despite some big names, nail biting action and the thrilling promise of a T20 match, the CLT20 has definitely been lacking. Let’s take a look.
One of the biggest concerns of CLT20 is the unknown teams and overtly unknown players that represent these clubs. The bigger and better known names are playing, expectedly, for their Indian franchisees rather than their ‘home’ sides. (Did someone just shout out the famous Cuba Gooding Jr. chant to a certain Mr. Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire! Somewhere down the line, it has been about the money.)
The next problem, is the dismal show the Indian cricket fan witnessed some time ago, with prayers and exclamations on their lips as the Indian team struggled to come to terms with a resurgent and fervent English team. Too much cricket? One might ask. But then aren’t we a country of extremes? Too much of everything- people, corruption, religion, stars and cricket, of course!
Considering the overdose of Indian cricket, could the people behind the Champions’ League have done anything different to project an image, more appealing, to the jaded cricket fan? We think so.
- Projecting the young India– CLT20 could have been the right platform to shift the focus to a younger team India. The persistent question and the answers that eluded us during the recent tour of to England were – where is the younger backup to our senior players? This could have been a platform to promote the talent, receiving their maiden shot at international glory.
- Ride the parochial pride– Campaigns to build on the ever existent communal and parochial pride a big country like India enjoys. The Bengalis, the Kannadas, the Tamils and the Marathas taking on the world. At the end of it, it will be a Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai or Bangalore team lifting the cup that will bring in the desired results for the organizers and broadcasters.
- Build the visiting teams– A provocative and aggressive opponent always pushes the adrenaline of the masses to the peak of patriotism. For a televised event such as CLT20, this would have worked wonders. Think about the bad mouthing WWE wrestlers or a scheming saas on television today.
- Capture the ‘hurt’ stars– Even though GOD injured himself, the Indian team’s supporting cast of heroes and ‘Captain Cool Dhoni’ should’ve been utilized well. This was a chance for a Harbhajan, a Gambhir or a Pathan to make amends, and the tournament could have been a lot better.
- Build the ‘tamasha’– The CLT20 PR has failed to generate any buzz for it. In an international pool the organizers missed the bus on lot of interesting stories the tournament could offered the viewer. Bhajji captaining Symonds, the Bhajji-Dhoni face off, Pollard vs two T20 teams he has played with, an English side on Indian soil- time for vengeance. However, the CLT20 was not found to be the talk of any bar, the gossip surrounding and featured picture or even the ‘news of the hour’ on an electronic channel.
The CLT20 could well take a leaf out of the European soccer contest it borrows the name from. Despite all the leagues and its following across the massive continent of Europe, the Champions’ League is a much watched and highly anticipated tournament, through its entire run of over 8 months.
What the CLT20 tried doing reminds us of a certain A1 GP, which never made it big irrespective of an Indian team in the fray and all the adrenaline motorsports offer. The A1 GP was given a thumbs down by sports enthusiasts as it lacked the certain X factor- of known names, known credentials and human interest stories.
The CLT20 organisers need to quickly take another look at the image the league has built for itself, considering how much we Indians love our ‘masala stories’, the League is yet to bowl us over.