One of the upsides of only being a pretend journalist is that when a story emerges that no-one can be bothered to cover properly, it’s perfectly acceptable to write a few scathing words about how rubbish said story is and then move on to something much more interesting, such as the life and times of Sulieman Benn. While this does raise the question of whether we can ever hope to be more than pretend journalists with that attitude, we just don’t care. Imagine being contractually forced to write about something as demeaning as Hong Kong women being bowled out for 15; no amount of gin could make that fun.
It helps, of course, when nobody else is taking an event seriously. The Champions League T20 of 2012 will be best remembered for stories of various teams using it as a three week pissup, enjoying the sights and sounds of South Africa from the bottom of a crate of Kingfisher.
In a way, it’s a shame that the tournament hasn’t captured the imagination. Conceptually, a T20 Champions League could be a genuinely exciting addition to the cricket schedule, bringing together the world’s top sides for the very highest standard of competition. Basically, exactly like the football Champions League. Unfortunately that’s not what the last few weeks has delivered, with other, more exciting news hogging the headlines.
Things haven’t been helped by the scheduling. If you’d spent three weeks endlessly blogging your way through the World T20, you wouldn’t fancy watching an almost identical competition starting two days after the first one finished. Even if it did have Steve Smith in it. Unlikely as it may seem, it is possible to have too much T20 cricket. Unfortunately, not a single administrator in the world seems to be able to comprehend this.
On a more positive note, the IPL teams were bloody awful throughout this tournament. It’s impossible to understate how much pleasure we’ve taken from this. It’s what we’ll call ‘white boot syndrome’ – making an obvious statement about how much money you have and how this somehow makes you better, when in fact you’re still just a fat kid, albeit one with expensive footwear.
As we probably pointed out at the time, the actual standard of the IPL wasn’t very high last season. When two teams are producing a similar standard this largely goes unnoticed but when the IPL sides took on genuine teams here their lack of quality stood out big time, which only goes to underline the ridiculousness of having four teams automatically in the group stage while more deserving (i.e. better) sides have to madly scramble over the wall of qualification.
As for the winners themselves, it’s hard to find anyone more deserving than the Sydney Sixers. Mainly because we only watched about three games, but also because they actually looked organised, professional and as if they actually wanted to be there for the cricket, rather than just a few beers and some Nando’s. As well as the obvious Steve Smith brilliance there were a load of runs for Michael Lumb, just reinforcing the gin-addled insanity of England’s selections in the World T20, and another bucketful of wickets for man of the series Mitchell Starc.
While a ten wicket win in the final was somewhat extreme, it re-emphasised just how good the Sixers were throughout the tournament. Theirs was a relatively classical approach – three seamers, two spinners and a seam-bowling allrounder or two gave them plenty of options with the ball – but it worked perfectly in conditions that were generally a little difficult for batsmen, even after Shane Watson was sent to bed early by Cricket Australia.
As with the World T20 before it, it was those batsmen and bowlers with genuinely solid techniques who mostly excelled, rather than ‘bits and pieces’ players or those of agricultural descent. This sort of development in T20 is officially a good thing. Unless you’re Richard Levi, in which case you might want to talk to your bank manager about refinancing your mortgage.