New Delhi (Hindustan Times): When CLT20 was conceived back in 2008, the idea was to build it up into an event as glitzy as the Champions League - the blue riband football property.
Five years down the line, the CLT20 is as far away from its goal as it was at the time of its conception. The tournament, co-hosted by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa, is struggling to find its feet, with spectators yet to show the desired level of enthusiasm.
"The reason why CLT20 has failed to get the desired response is that India already has a hugely popular tournament in IPL (Indian Premier League). Nothing comes even close to it. So it makes sense to hold it outside India where it doesn't have to compete with the IPL," said an IPL team official, requesting anonymity.
Be that as it may, can the tournament escape the accusation of not providing a level playing field to all participating nations?
While the fourth ranked IPL team gets a direct entry into the main draw, the champion teams from West Indies, New Zealand, England and Pakistan have to compete in a qualifier.
Then, the IPL teams, on the strength of their financial muscle, also get to snatch away players from others teams for the tournament.
"It's true that CLT20 is getting crowded with IPL teams. And it's obviously being done to cash in on the popularity of these teams. But then it's equally true that domestic champions of the invited teams from Sri Lanka, Pakistan or New Zealand are not good enough to give top teams a run for their money. If you cut down on the IPL teams and include teams from these countries, the competition will become lop-sided," he said.
"We could hope for more fair representation in the future if the club culture catches up in these countries. Then they could send stronger teams to the competition."
While this argument could still be debated, the invited countries are too happy to just be there to bother about the principle of fairness.
"It's the tournament organised by the BCCI (CA and CSA) and they are kind enough to give opportunity to others. And whatever changes are made to the format of the tournament, it's just to make it much better, there's absolutely nothing wrong with it," said Sri Lanka Cricket president Upali Dharmadasa.
With a team standing to collect $200,000 for just qualifying, there can't much to complain.