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Mickey Arthur - Walks the talk

CL may shift focus of young players from Test cricket, feels Mickey Arthur

Wednesday, October 07, 2021
'Youngsters may shift focus from Test cricket'

Australia were the best team in the tournament and that is all the evidence you need to say that the Champions Trophy format works. It was short, sharp and effective – with a worthy champion after just two weeks of largely a do-or-die competition.  

No doubt the debate and discussion will continue about the future of the 50-over format but, as far as I am concerned, there is a plenty of room for all the three competitions in the global cricket calendar provided we have sensitive administrators, who care equally about the emotional health of the game as its financial health.

The cricket world barely has the chance to pause for breath before our attention now turns to the Champions League. I have no doubt that interest will be high at the start of the tournament but the real test for the concept of domestic champions playing each other will be whether people are as interested at the end of the two weeks.

As I have always said, you can attach as much hype and razzmatazz as you like to a cricket league or tournament but if the actual product isn’t good enough then spectators will lose interest. I also wonder how much interest there will be in India when two teams of ‘foreigners’ play each other without any locals.

Seasoned international cricketers travel so much these days that they are quickly able to make the required adjustments to different conditions around the world. However, there will be many players from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, who have limited or no experience of Indian conditions, which could lead to a few one-sided and disappointing games. The new League will then really have to stand on its own feet.

But my major concern is that young, ambitious players will have their focus changed from wanting to play Test cricket for their countries to seeing the Champions League as a global ‘shop window’ in which they can display their abilities with a view to earning an IPL contract.

Such is the instant nature of T20 cricket that it could take just a single, explosive innings, or a brilliant bowling spell, to persuade an IPL franchise that he is worth a ‘gamble’ and a contract. It will be up to administrators and team coaches to persuade young players that long-term success, even in this format, takes time and dedication. Long lasting careers are not made in 20 minutes.

The two South Africa sides could hardly be more of a contrast. Despite losing their captain, Graeme Smith, the Cape Cobras remain a ‘glamour’ club with a big reputation and some big stars like Herschelle Gibbs and JP Duminy, whereas the Diamond Eagles are very young, extremely hard working and routinely play better than the sum of their parts. But look out for kids like Dean Elgar, Rilee Rossouw and CJ de Villiers. They are capable of surprising anyone.

Despite my curiosity and, to a lesser degree, my concerns about the Champions League, I am excited and looking forward to watching it on television. So, as far as I am concerned, it has already made a good start!