The point was raised at some point in one of our recent podcasts that many football fans regard the Champions League as being more prestigious than the World Cup. The argument goes that Champions League features better players (i.e. more Brazilians), and better football on the whole. National teams can often be handicapped by the fact that they may not be able to cover all positions equally well. Think of Brazilian goalkeepers, or English outfielders, for instance. So Champions League teams tend to be, on the whole, far better than their national counterparts, which means the Champions League is, overall, the better tournament.
The argument is, of course, rubbish. The appeal of the World Cup is in the fact that even the best teams will have their flaws, which makes for a better contest overall as no one team can simply buy their way to success, and a more open competition is the result. Until Spain bore everyone to death and win the thing of course.
In the world of cricket though, the opposite could be argued to be the case. Which makes it a shame that the Champions League will be largely overlooked, as it will most likely feature a far higher standard of play than the T20 World Cup which directly preceded it. The sheer weight of second rate Aussies that will be participating proves that point alone. So in an effort to attract some deserved attention to the tournament, we will have a look at some of those players who will feature in South Africa over the next few weeks who were, for one reason or another, absent from the T20 World Cup. And our list begins, of course, with its most prominent absentee.
We could wax lyrical about the manifold talents that Steve Smith possesses. We have before and we no doubt will again. But there really isn’t any need here. Instead we will direct you to the YouTube video below:
In many ways the pariah of South African cricket for a few years now, Gibbs has turned himself into one of those perennial wanderers of the T20 circuit, tramping around the world in search of his next paycheque. As contemptuously as we like to regard T20 specialists here at 51allout, it can’t be denied that Gibbs is one of the premier batsmen in the format, and South Africa felt his absence acutely at the World Cup.
Expect Gibbs to open the innings for the Scorchers and tee off with great regularity.
Another T20 specialist, and another player who warms the cockles of the collective 51allout heart. The argument was made ahead of the T20 World Cup that, on form at least, Mascarenhas ought to have been part of the England squad. Or at least some members of 51allout made the case, whilst pissed off their heads and hurling empty beer bottles at the TV during the Friends Life T20 whenever Tim Bresnan appeared (FAO Kingfisher: send more beer please. And a new TV). In any case, as it turns out he could hardly have done worse than the numpties who were selected ahead of him.
An all-rounder who somehow continues to con a couple of wickets each game despite bowling absolute filth, Mascharenhas is also a more than handy lower order slogger. In any case he is a damn sight better cricketer than Jade Dernbach.
To the absolute astonishment of all and sundry, Jadeja was purchased by Chennai at the last IPL auction for roughly five times the annual US military budget. Exactly why, nobody could fathom, and he went on to have a thoroughly underwhelming season.
Jadeja’s greatest asset is his fielding, which is brilliant. Not quite Steve Smith brilliant, but pretty bloody good nonetheless. An allrounder who mixes left arm filth with lower order slogging, Jadeja’s performances both for India and Chennai have been consistently inconsistent. He will be hoping for a few breakthrough performances here.
The evergreen fast bowler will, at 37 years young, no doubt terrorise batsmen of nearly half his age at the Champions League. The secret to Martin’s success is his unerring accuracy, which will be in great demand on the batsmen friendly pitches that await the teams in South Africa. There is also the hope, the faint hope, that we will get the opportunity to see him bat during the tournament at one stage. Which will be worth the price of admission alone really.
Surprisingly, Australia felt Brett Lee’s absence in the T20 World Cup far less than many predicted. Largely because Shane Watson proved easily capable of carrying the team on his own. But nevertheless the fact remains that even after his international retirement Brett Lee remains one of the best limited overs bowlers in the world.
Lee is one of those players who opted to represent his IPL team rather than his domestic side (in this case the Sydney Sixers), and considering Kolkata also have Lakshmipathy Balaji on their books, they will be very glad he did.
We’re already fascinated by the progress of England’s potential new Test opener Joe Root. Perhaps, like housewives across the country, we’re enraptured by his angelic schoolboy face. Or it might be that we’re keen to see if we can see the same potential that the England selectors believe they can. The county sides have an (unfairly) extremely difficult route through to the latter stages so if Yorkshire are to make an impression they’ll be relying heavily on the likes of Root and World T20 star Jonny Bairstow, who is, of course, now injured. We don’t fancy their chances much.
Fresh off the back of demolishing New Zealand in their recent two Test series, Ojha is one of the form spin bowlers in the world right now. Just behind Xavier Doherty. Passed over in the Indian squad for the T20 World Cup in favour of the likes of Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, a crime which justifiably saw India bow out early as a result, Ojha will be champing at the bit in South Africa.
The Mumbai team is packed with talent, to the extent that Ojha is not even their number one spinner (that honour goes to Sunil Narine), yet Ojha will no doubt get his chance to impress and prove the Indian selectors wrong. Yet again.