Thoughts and Revelations from the Champions League
For a tournament that went completely under the radar, the ramifications from it will reverberate outwards pretty significantly. Jarrod Potter on all things Champions League and his Champions League XI.
It was a joyous pain at times to stay up watching the Champions League tournament this time around. Certainly aided by the addition of a 42′ TV to the Potter household, but by and large it hurt to drag myself out of bed night after night, then to back it up with the relevant thoughts. It was a tournament to launch a thousand names; domestic champions who will now auction off their services for a far greater sum at the upcoming IPL Auction.
Two spinners is world-class standard in T20
Both of the teams in the final had two great spinner to reliably pick up wickets and slow down the opposing run rate. Murali and Ashwin were pivotal to Chennai hoisting the trophy, via quite phenomenal figures (will cover these two in particular later in this piece). Warriors likewise were able to force a slower tempo via Botha and Boje. Even the remaining semi-finalists packed the power of two spinners: South Australia with O’Brien and Bailey; Mumbai with Singh and to a lesser extent Duminy. The impact of 8 slow overs shouldn’t be discredited; Ashwin trapped Jacobs plumb in the final with a fantastic piece of deception bowling. Spinners especially are great at taking the tail order wickets and should be exploited as much as possible in this format. The fast bowling attack was particularly savaged in this tournament, the likes of Nannes and Bollinger at times being very expensive.
Tournament of the Non-Internationals
As my Champions League XI will show, by and large these players aren’t heralded by their home boards and given the due respect and matchtime they deserve. Some I will admit are incredibly young, but the likes of Theron, Vijay and Jacobs have all be relatively overlooked by the side. Hopefully their efforts in this tournament help to push them over the top and into the international fold.
Empty Feeling Surrounding the Lack of Teams
The loss of the English teams was felt particularly hard by the viewing audience. Hampshire and Somerset have a good following under their own right, then you add to that the civic nationalism that Britain is famous for and you would’ve seen a marked improvement on television ratings and stadia attendance. I’ve already talked about the lack of ZIM, BAN or PAK teams in the tournament, so it is my hope that to make this a more inclusive tournament that the numbers are increased to 15 as of 2011.
So Much for the Hired Guns
Thoroughly unimpressed with Bangalore and Mumbai’s acquistions throughout this tournament. Do not think in the slightest that they impacted the results, outside of Kallis’ allrounder feat in their first match against Guyana. Taylor, Kallis and White returned 188 runs between them; a figure bettered by 7 individual batsmen from other teams. Pollard was ok with the bat, but his figures were inflated by his 72* (only against Guyana though, he was smashed by the real teams), yet with no wickets and barely any overs under his belt. Add to that the fairly insipid results of Bravo for Mumbai and I’m left with an extremely sour taste in my mouth from these ex-pats. Did they pull their punches on purpose or were they just outclassed and playing in the wrong sides?
Jarrod Potter’s Champions League XI
After a great deal of consternation and pondering, I’ve come up with what I feel is the best XI from the Champions League. More than happy to debate these choices in the comments below.
286 runs at 147.17 Strike Rate
Was the difference between any Warriors victory and Warriors defeat. Always put his foot forward in a spate of captain’s knocks. Immediately garners selection.
197 runs at 148.12 Strike Rate
Besides my duty to be biased towards the Bushrangers, Finch showed off explosive hitting in the shape and style of David Warner from last year’s tournament. His 41 off 17 defied all known information on how people are able to hit. Likewise his 93* against Central Districts was the guiding force to take them across the line. Can not wait to see him belt some people around the MCG at this year’s Big Bash.
203 runs at 167.76 Strike Rate; 5 wickets at an Economy Rate of 6.33
Absolutely belted the opposition at any chance. The 94* against Bangalore was amazing to watch. People should not be able to strike near enough to 100 runs at 200 strike rate, but that was what Raina made the benchmark standard in aggressive T20 batting. Add to that 5 handy wickets including 4 for 26 against Victoria and you have a certain addition to my XI.
294 runs at 122.50 Strike Rate
Steadying presence in the Chennai lineup that allowed Raina and Hussey to hit the ball freely without worry. Rearguard 58 in the final helped guide Chennai to victory, added to innings of his other efforts of 73 and 68 were impressive for my mind. Earned himself the Golden Bat for Most Runs Scored in the CLT20 as well to top off a fine tournament.
226 runs at 127.68 Strike Rate
One of four captains in this XI and his leadership was never put in doubt as he played his way to a bag of runs. Three half centuries of 78, 69* and 50 and the thorough aggression metered by fantastic strokeplay were crucial to South Australia progressing to the Semi-Finals. When he gets his internationals back for the Australian T20 Summer, it wouldn’t surprise me if he lead them back to the Champions League in 2011.
188 runs at 138.28 Strike Rate; 1 wicket at an Economy Rate of 6.00
The only person fighting for the Central Districts earns himself a spot through some fierce power hitting against excellent opposition. Pulled out the big guns against the Warriors and Victoria to ensure reasonable chases for the opposition. 88* off 57 balls against Warriors was one of the innings of the tournament for myself personally. Didn’t have any team to work around him, but tried hard in spite of that. Should have forced the point enough to return to the New Zealand national team. Can roll his arm over as well when necessary.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C & WK)
91 runs at 130.00 Strike Rate; 11 dismissals (5 catches, 6 stumpings)
The premier wicketkeeper of the tournament by a long margin. Didn’t need to bat a whole lot, but was able to chip in when necessary. Good enough to bat higher for Chennai, but chooses wisely to trust the team he puts on the park. Clever captain in the field as well, with bowling changes and fielding placements that usually pay off (Ashwin getting thumped in the Super Over against Victoria being an anomaly). Great captain, now with a CLT20, IPL and World T20 victory on his résumé.
13 wickets at 6.51 Economy Rate
Don’t we love the allure of a Carrom ball spinner? He was surreptiously belted out of existence by a rampaging David Hussey in the Super Over, but he returned from that lesson a better bowler. Finished out the tournament with excellent figures including the best bowling of the tournament with 4/18 against Wayamba in a display of negating bowling that squeezed the life out of the opposition. Can bat at a first class level as well, so he’s well worth having in a T20 side as someone who can play two-way cricket.
8 wickets at 7.04 Economy Rate
Was nigh on unplayable at times and showed the way to deal with the South African pitches. His 3/22 against Victoria was a particularly good example of proper T20 bowling. Should walk his way into the South African limited overs team you would suspect.
8 wickets at 7.75 Economy Rate
Wild Thing was definitely living up to that name during this Champions League. Scarily quick and intimidating was exactly the mission for the South Australian, to which he delivered. Needs to work on getting his economy rate down, but otherwise hurtling the ball down the track as well as he ever has.
12 wickets at 5.69 Economy Rate
My old nemesis Murali just continues to rattle pegs across the world. Particularly effective against non-internationals who were never subjected to his carnage, Murali finished up just as destructively in the Final, with 3/16 a dominant factor in restricting the Warriors to a low total. Should get a couple more years out of him at the T20 level and will be the scourge of the World Cup early next year.
12th / 13th Men
David Hussey and Callum Ferguson
Couldn’t split these two. Hussey’s 22 off the Super Over was sublime, as were the 3 fifties posted by Ferguson. Both will be fantastic to watch in late December at the Australia v England T20I.
Well that signs off a very interesting Champions League for all involved. Now it’s time to shift focus to a pair of Australian Test Series against India and then onto a fiery Ashes battle. The Champions League has provided a good kickstart to the opening of the Australian summer, that is for sure.
Editor of the True Allrounder