Thankfully cricket is back. Everyone has had enough of the scandals.
Cricket is at the mercy of its players and administrators. It is a glorious game that can be spoilt only by its supposed stewards. Selfishness is the enemy. Cricket's creed includes the notion that team and game come before the individual. Although never perfectly applied, it's a view that now lies in a hundred pieces. It is time to put Humpty Dumpty back together.
Appropriately it falls to the Champions League to renew optimism. Of all the tournaments played in recent times, it has been the freshest and cleanest. Last year's edition attracted scant attention but provided considerable pleasure.
Plain as day it mattered to those taking part, many of whom had never previously appeared in such a prestigious event. Suddenly humble provincial performers were given the chance to mix it with the mighty. Suddenly they were representing their country overseas. To them it was a huge honour and responsibility. Throughout they played with the sincerity that sometimes eludes supposed superiors. Unsurprisingly they trounced makeshift outfits.
Playing with passion
Amongst the contenders, Trinidad and Tobago played with a passion indicating that all was not lost in the Caribbean. Indeed they were so impressive that their captain was considered for even higher honours. Relying on spin and with Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo running amok, T & T displayed the gusto that has been missing from West Indian cricket. Afterwards encouraged observers advocated breaking up the regional team. Anything to restore pride.
The Free Staters from South Africa also caught the eye. Doubtless they had another title, a meaningless tag conveying little sense of attachment. A boy called Roussow opened the bating and spent most of the tournament hitting “long balls.” Of course he comes from Grey College, one of his country's cricketing strongholds. Nor was he the only youngster to relish the unexpected chance to prove his worth.
Somerset were the other surprise package. Despite losing Marcus Trescothick along the way, they too played rousing cricket. As far as they were concerned it was a fantastic opportunity.
After the Cidermen won their first match the chairman said it had been ‘the best night in the club's history” Doubtless he was exaggerating but it was refreshing to hear an official speak from the heart. Now the same county is on the verge of securing its first Championship title.
Ultimately the Australians were too strong and NSW took the trophy. The Blues fielded a galaxy of young dashers, a varied attack and an astute captain. It's always been a good combination.
Afterwards the youngsters celebrated with such enthusiasm that it was several weeks before they recovered their equanimity. Victoria were the beaten finalists, a more experienced bunch outplayed on the day.
For top finishers
Some of these teams are back, others did not make it. The Champions League is reserved for the top finishers in the domestic T20 competitions. Alas England did not send any sides because the season is not over.
These are the sort of clashes the game needs to sort out. Nor is Pakistan represented. Security considerations were paramount. At the time it seemed a shame. But cricket cannot wait any longer for the PCB to get a grip on itself and its players.
The tournament will be poorer for its narrowness. After all it is a coming together that matters. Such opportunities to mingle ought not to be missed. The ICC needs to sort out its programme. Every country for itself is a recipe for ruination.
Perhaps the IPL teams will rise this time. More likely frisky newcomers will upset the applecart. Let's hope so. Cricket needs a fillip.