European Cricket Champions League

How about this?

To help spread the game, let’s create a European Cricket Champions League. Below I’ve selected twenty possible teams for the inaugural tournament. I’ve selected the countries first and foremost by population but with previous/current cricketing pedigree helping the likes of Jersey squeeze in ahead of for example: Austria. Of course there could be more groups with more teams from more countries. Maybe the format could be eight groups of four teams but this is a starting point. I’ve kept it simple by sticking to capital cities for the teams and I’ve then organised them into geographically practical groups. Obviously the teams in Group A don’t have as far to travel for a match Athens do when playing Moscow but something’s got to give.

Group A

Dublin – Ireland

Edinburgh – Scotland

London – England

St Helier – Jersey

St Peter Port – Guernsey

Group B

Amsterdam – Netherlands

Brussels – Belgium

Madrid – Spain

Paris – France

Rome – Italy

Group C

Berlin – Germany

Copenhagen – Denmark

Prague – Czechia/Czech Republic

Stockholm – Sweden

Warsaw – Poland

Group D

Athens – Greece

Bucharest – Romania

Budapest – Hungary

Kiev – Ukraine

Moscow – Russia

Let’s say that each team plays eight matches. They play the four other teams in their group home and away. The format is Twenty20 with 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a defeat. The top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. The team with the most points, or if tied then the team that has scored the most runs (Or taken most wickets, etc etc.) in the competition, has home advantage in the last eight. For the semi-finals, the two teams that won their QF by the largest margin gain home advantage for the semi-finals. The final is played at a predetermined neutral venue unless of course that team has qualified for the final, in which case lucky them!

This would be a great opportunity to help continental cricketers develop their skills in a competitive, meaningful and exciting environment. Now of course the teams could just end up being national teams but maybe this would inspire other cities to create teams. For example, Italy creates a four-team league with entrants from Rome, Turin, Florence and Naples. They hold their own qualifying tournament and the winner qualifies for the European Cricket Champions League. It wouldn’t even have to require a full season, just a short-term tournament but measures would need to be in place to ensure some squad continuity season by season and possibly even a local player quota in each team.

Of course this idea isn’t entirely original. It’s very much along the lines of European football but if it can make stars out of Polish or Ukrainian cricketers and get people in those nations playing the game then great. Teams could have the option of one or two non-European players to supplement their seventeen-man squad. The cricket calendar is already congested but the players likely to participate in this competition are unlikely to be playing in franchise leagues around the globe… for now anyway! If Copenhagen signed a Ugandan cricketer and he starred for them in the tournament then that would help cricket all around. Kids in Uganda would be inspired, pick up a bat or ball and want to play the game, on the street and possibly in Europe’s leading cricket competition. Denmark themselves would’ve obviously do well and the player in question might end up getting an IPL or Big Bash gig. All corners of the globe could be represented in the competition, European players could end up playing in the South American equivalent and these players could end up playing in the IPL etc… or maybe those competitions will have been superseded by such tournaments as the European Cricket Champions League!

I could suggest team names like London Lions, Edinburgh Royals or Dublin Shamrocks but the continental teams will of course posses native names. You wouldn’t expect teams to be called Berlin Bears of Stockholm Sixers for example but might find Les Chevaliers de Paris. Now of course London would be expected to win and English players deserve to play as much as anybody but maybe some sort of criteria could be put in place to limit the amount of full international or even professionals participating, at least in the early years whilst the other teams/nations evolve.

The same league concept could be implemented on other continents as well.

Could we see Tokyo versus Seoul or Pyongyang versus Beijing in the Asian version?

To open the game to the world could help develop it tremendously and highlight how stuck in time we are, even when we think that the game is constantly evolving. I can’t say that I’m a Formula One fan but when I caught a glimpse of maybe the Malaysian Grand Prix which was held on the streets at night, the variety made it more interesting. Maybe in Japan matches would be held on rooftops or in China be played in huge stadiums.

Maybe we could discover new grounds like that in Rwanda…

https://www.cricketbuildshope.org

I’ve previously written about how I can’t believe that America doesn’t have a successful T20 competiton…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

Canada got one first. Hong Kong have one as well. Let’s have a Europe wide cricket competition to bring the game to the continental masses, to the amphitheatres of Rome, the Streets of Amsterdam, the bars of Greece and beyond!

What do you guys think? Is there a place for a city based European Cricket Champions League? Could such a tournament help steal some of the sporting monopoly from football? Could such an idea work in other parts of the world?

Many thanks for reading and keep following, keep liking and keep blogging yourself if that’s your thing!

Disclaimer: Apologies for the appalling image at the top of this post. I might try and source another one later!

Vince Voyages Trans-Tasman

James Vince played a typically James Vince-like innings today. The sometime England batsman made 28 from 25 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152540/perth-scorchers-vs-sydney-sixers-30th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Vince has cut short his time with New Zealand side Auckland Aces to represent his second Sydney side and I have to say I’m disappointed in him. Having signed for the Kiwi outfit, you’d like to think that he would’ve fulfilled his contract but no! He got a better offer from a more fashionable side in a more glamorous league in the same city he’s represented before but for a different team and negotiated a way out. Maybe it was already in his contract that he could depart for the razzmatazz of the Big Bash.

We see these sort of short stints from overseas players in England and aside from T20s, Australians in particular have always had no qualms about representing a different county from summer to summer but even in a global franchise world, you’d like to think that there can be a place for some sort of loyalty and honour?!

Oz go Backwards to go Forwards… or Sideways… or Backwards Again?!

Australia have gone all retro-England on us with their latest ODI squad selection. Potential but inconsistent T20 performers Chris Lynn, D’arcy Short and Ben McDermott have all been ditched to make way for the likes of less explosive but more reliable players such as Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja. Though Marsh has done well in the IPL, you can’t help but think that Australia have pushed the panic button… and kept pressing! The selectors can’t seem to make their mind up about Peter Handscomb and one innings from him in the Big Bash seems to have confused them even further. All this fuels pressure on their bowling attack to limit opposition to totals that were the norm five years ago but not today.

Could it all click for Oz at this summer’s World Cup or will their fall continue?

Please don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE7Dc2rxjmHdT09xofaoAXg

Zazai to Fly!

One of the reasons that I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of Afghanistan matches at Headingley come this year’s ODI World Cup is… Hazratullah Zazai!

I’ve detailed the destructive opening batsman’s abilities previously…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/10/14/if-theres-one-to-watch/

He’s started the Bangladesh Premier League in some style by smacking 78 from just 41 deliveries for Dhaka Dynamites against Rajshahi Kings.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169380/dhaka-dynamites-vs-rajshahi-kings-2nd-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera walloped 140 from only 74 balls but still ended up on the losing side against New Zealand today. In Colin Munro and Jimmy Neesham, New Zealand have some destructive hitters of their own.

Trans-Tasman, Australia’s Marcus Stoinis is producing the goods for Melbourne Stars in this season’s Big Bash.

All around the world there’s some big hitting talent that will be congregating in England this summer. Could we see some record-breaking performances come the World Cup?

Please don’t forget to check out my YoutTube channel…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE7Dc2rxjmHdT09xofaoAXg

Something in the Genes!

They’re not bad these Curran brothers are they?

I don’t actually think that most diehard cricket fans were surprised at how Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to Test cricket. He’s an absolute star, capable of batting at six (Maybe higher) and opening the bowling for his country. His left-arm variety will be essential to England’s attack and compensates for any perceived lack of pace. I previously said that he is the axis around which England should build their team but given England’s abundance of all-round talent, just to be a cog will suffice. He’s already made his buck courtesy of the IPL (He’s been snapped up by Kings XI Punjab) but hopefully he’ll keep his feet on the ground and stay engaged with the longest form of the game as well as the pyjama affairs.

Brother Tom struggled for wickets in the 2017-18 Ashes series in Australia but displayed chutzpah with both bat and ball. He performed well in white-ball (ODI/T20I) cricket and it’s a shame that injuries limited his England outings in 2018. He’s been on absolute fire for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash this winter, already claiming a hat-trick of three-wicket hauls and scoring a swashbuckling half-century. I still think he’s capable of being a viable Test option for England at least in home conditions. He and Sam clearly have attitude which I like. It’s not ugly but there’s a little bit of ‘In your face!’ and that’s healthy against some competitors.

Then there’s brother Ben. It would be easy to get discouraged by being a little behind his brothers or for him to be the butt of jokes but BC has won a contract with Northamptonshire on the back of an encouraging showing late last season. That included signing off with a match-winning 83 not out against Sussex in the County Championship and he’ll be keen to kick on this term for a side that have lost Ben Duckett to Nottinghamshire. How far BC can go remains to be seen. There’s no disgrace in having a solid county career without international recognition but whilst Sam and Tom might look destined for greatness, remember how compatriot Steven Finn as well as India’s Irfan Pathan sadly fell away. In the case of Ben, we might yet see a Mike Hussey style post thirty Test debut followed by thousands of runs!

Another Fall for Tymal!

Firstly, the headline does rhyme, providing you pronounce his name correctly!

Left-arm quick Tymal Mills has been ruled out of this season’s Big Bash due to a hamstring injury. It’s yet another cruel blow for the Yorkshire born former Essex sometime Sussex player.

Mills, who suffers from a congenital back condition, is a million miles away from a recall to England’s T20I squad and missing out on opportunities such as this one could prove costly both on the financial and international front.

Hobart Hurricanes will have to do without their potential speed merchant in their quest for wickets this winter (Or summer). Fingers crossed that Mills can fully recover from this setback and take to the field regularly in the years to come.