Hijinx at Champions League T20

The Champions League T20 is reaching the conclusion of the first stage.  It has come to my attention that some people don’t even know that it is on.  As it is a little interesting, and a new event in cricket, I thought I should give it little space.

The tournament brings together the top team, or teams from various domestic T20 competitions.  I don’t know what the mathematics is (but I’m sure it has a lot to do with money) but IPL has three teams, while other nations get one team or two teams.

There are four pools of three teams each.  Now here is an interesting thing.  All pools are seeded with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd seed.  An oddity of this tournament is that groups remain as per seeding when they are allocated to the next stage, regardless of standings based on points, unless the third placed team qualifies.  If the team seeded third qualifies, it takes the place of the eliminated team. 

With all but one group finished, that isn’t going to happen unless Trinidad & Tobago beats Deccan (seeded 1st).  In that case, T & T will qualify as the number one ranked team.  In Group C, the Cobras won both matches but will go through ranked second.   Go figure.  Apparently this is being rationalised with the explanation that it makes planning for TV and logistics easier.

It is interesting to consider with this in light, lasts night’s match between Victoria and Wayamba.  The match started with Victoria on one win and Wayamba one loss.  Wayamba had to beat Vic by a certain margin to qualify.   Wayamba batted first and made 118 on a difficult pitch.  When Victoria start its chase, they knew that they had to score just 84 runs to qualify on run rate (or score 119 to win, of course). 

Victoria lost but in scoring 103, qualified.  Victoria had nothing to gain by winning the match and the group as standings remain unchanged.  However, they had something to gain by losing!  By ensuring Wayamba was eliminated, Vic goes through with its points from beating Delhi (who also progressed).  As is common in cricket tournaments these days, points earned against other terms progressing to the next stage are carried through.  Delhi takes no points through as they beat Wayamba (now eliminated).  In my opinion, Victoria obviously made no attempt to win the match – why would they?  What team loses by 15 runs with just 4 wickets down?  If that isn’t match fixing, what is?  Is match fixing legal if it is simply taking advantage of silly tournament rules (and as long as no team members bet against themselves)?

Other brief comments:

After spurning McGrath for the whole of the last IPL season, Delhi made an SOS call and the great man took 2/20 from four overs.

The IPL teams are not fairing so well, with all of them suffering defeats.  Perhaps the “P” will need to be removed.  In fairness, it should be noted that the IPL teams are not playing at full strength as some players have been lost to other teams in the tournament.  There are quite a few players who were able to choose between two teams.  Out of interest, these are the ones I have noticed:

McCullum is playing for Otago, not his beloved NSW
Warner is playing for NSW, not Delhi
Bracks is playing for NSW instead of Bangalore
Gibbs is playing for Cobras, not Deccan
Nannes, the only IPL faithful, is playing for Delhi and not Victoria.

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