In a recent article on the ISL, I briefly expounded on the J-League and how it has two sections in a season. There are two champions in a year and the league champion is decided by a series of playoffs between the winners of each section and the top two point accumulators in each phase.
This also happens to be a feature of Latin American soccer leagues with the traditional season from August to May divided into two parts termed the ‘Apertura’ [aperˈtuɾa] and ‘Clausura’ [klawˈsuɾa] tournaments. These words are Spanish for ‘opening’ and ‘closing’.
In Haiti, where they speak French, it’s ‘Ouverture’ and ‘Fermeture’. In Belize, where English is the pre-dominant tongue, it’s simply the ‘Opening’ and ‘Closing’ seasons.
The National American Soccer League also adopts a similar regime dividing the second-level league into ‘Spring’ and ‘Fall’ championships.
The terminology varies across different countries.
In Argentina, it’s ‘Inicial’ and ‘Final ‘(Spanish for “initial” and “final“). In Colombia, ‘Apertura’ and ‘Finalización’ and in Costa Rica, ‘Invierno’ and ‘Verano’ (Spanish for ‘winter’ and ‘summer’).
In some countries, these tournaments are national championships by themselves. In others, there is a final stage much like the J-League where the top teams play each other to be crowned the season’s winners. In yet others, the two league winners play each other in a curtain-raiser at the beginning of the next season.
Most tourneys with fewer teams utilize a double round-robin format while in leagues with many more sides participating, only a single round-robin format suffices.
Relegations, if any, are usually on an aggregate basis.
This year, the Champions League Twenty20 was scrapped by the Australian, English and Indian boards jointly.
The reasons given were poor viewership and lack of sponsorship.
Franchises from India, Sri Lanka, West Indies, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England take part. England have not participated since 2013 citing clashes with their domestic season.
Amongst all the T20 leagues taking place today, the Indian Premier League is the richest, most glamorous and most successful by far.
However, the competition is plagued by player withdrawals and injuries as well as viewer fatigue given the sheer number of matches over a period of two months.
This year, the IPL followed the ODI World Cup. It was difficult to attract television sponsors given their budgets had already been exhausted on 2015’s premier cricket tournament.
This is a perennial problem with the IPL when international tournaments are scheduled either before or after it. The BCCI, with its clout, may have cleared the ICC calendar for its showcase tourney but it has no control on the purse-strings of corporate sponsors and where they choose to spend their advertising money.
The splitting of the IPL into two phases can be the solution to these worries.
A shorter tourney would be more attractive to sponsors, cut both player and viewer fatigue and keep interest right from the beginning without having the audience tune in towards the end of the league to clue in as to which teams would finally qualify for the knock-out rounds.
The current format is a double round-robin league featuring home and away games.
Each side plays a total of 14 games. In a single round-robin league, this would be reduced to seven each.
Seven is not an even number. Half the teams would be slightly advantaged, playing one game more at home. This, of course, is offset by them playing one less home-game in the latter phase.
The division into two pieces would allow for a much tighter ship. Interest in the next phase would be retained by the addition of a playoff round deciding the eventual victor.
This would also allow players to make themselves available for at least one phase of the tournament and not have them either arrive or leave abruptly midway through the tournament. The first phase could be scheduled for April and the second in October using the spot vacated by the Champions League.
An addition of four more games as a season closer can always be accommodated. This, of course, may entail expenditure on two more trophies but that is a small price to pay for a much more streamlined event.
The clamour for reform in the IPL ought not to be confined to spot-fixing allegations, conflicts of interest, transparency and probity in ownership.
The tournament itself needs to be examined and vetted to see that it can withstand the wares from mushrooming leagues in other sports that slowly but surely will erode their viewership.
Standing still on a moving treadmill is never a good idea.
What he said:
“He treated the threat of ban as he views the charge of batsmen ill-advised dashes which could only result in failure.”
Ravi Shastri comments as to why Sunil Narine failed to read the tea leaves and continued his suspect action despite being warned by the Champions League Technical Committee. The West Indian off-spinner and Kolkata Knight Riders stalwart was called again in the Champions League semi-final and will warm the benches for the final against Chennai Super Kings.
“He might have been emboldened by a fresh set of officials for the semifinals. Or he might have seen the swell of support from his teammates as his validation. Once you are indestructible, you sense you are indestructible at all levels.
Narine now has cost his team its most lethal weapon for the finals. His international career for the moment is unimpeded, but he can’t be dismissive of the threat like he has been in the Champions League. He can’t allow this shadow to lengthen on the IPL door.”
What he really meant:
“Sunil, perhaps, felt it was a one-off or that he could do nothing about his action overnight . Besides, the pressure to perform and keep bagging wickets for the side is too much to allow one to think through the consequences of one’s action (sic). Just because you have a cheerleading squad rooting your every ball doesn’t mean you can chuck. Check that action, Narine.”
What he definitely didn’t literally sing:
“The banned didn’t see it coming.”
What he said:
“It’s almost like Indians have chillies from a very early age, therefore if you eat chilli it doesn’t really bother you. But if we eat chilli, it burns our mouth, which is the same while playing spin.”
Perth Scorchers coach, Justin Langer, has an interesting analogy as explanation as to why Australian players struggle against quality spin bowling.
Speaking to CLT20.com, he said:
“No matter how much you try and prepare, it [playing spin] is very difficult.It’s like when India come to Australia, we have bouncier and faster wickets, which gets harder for them to play.”
“We are brought up on fast and bouncy wickets that swing around and not so much on spinning wickets. So when we come up here, it’s like eating chilli and it is hard to get used to it. I know in Australian cricket there is a focus in becoming better off playing spin bowling, but it is something that is going to take a long time to develop.
When you come here and you are not used to playing spin, and then you come out against world-class spinners like Sunil Narine and Mohammad Hafeez, you are always going to be tested.”
What he really meant:
“It might be easier to teach our guys to swallow hot peppers than have them move their leaden feet against top-notch spin.”
What he definitely didn’t:
“All quality players of spin are chilli eaters. And thus Mexicans (with their tabasco sauce) would be able to hammer Warney out of the park any day.”