T20 Champions League worthy of a place in cricketing schedule, says Martyn Moxon

IT flashed across the cricketing skies like a meteor before disappearing from view just as fast.

Martyn Moxon: Believes previous tournament could have been ahead of its time.

Now Martyn Moxon would like to see the return of the Twenty20 Champions League, arguing that the competition should be reintroduced when the sporting world gets back to normal.

The Yorkshire director of cricket was a big fan of the tournament which ran from 2009-2014 and brought together the best domestic T20 teams from across the world.

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Yorkshire took part in it in 2012 after finishing runners-up in that year’s T20 Blast, but the event fell by the wayside as interest levels failed to match the size of the broadcasting contract and the various costs involved.

Iain Wardlaw: Bowler faced some top batsmen when Yorkshire played in Champions League. (Picture: SWPix.com)

However, momentum is building to rekindle the concept, with support from such as Manoj Bedale, lead owner of the Indian Premier League franchise Rajasthan Royals, and also Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive.

Clearly much depends on the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions presently placed on travel, but there seems a growing mood among the world’s administrators to revisit the concept – a mood echoed by Moxon.

“It was a great tournament and I’d be all for the resurrection of that,” he said. “You’re pitting yourself against the best T20 teams in the world, so for any county that’s a great opportunity.

“It was very well-organised when we took part, very enjoyable and very competitive.

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale was captain when the Vikings played in the Champions League. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“If we ever get rid of Covid, it would be good to rekindle that, for sure.”

Yorkshire took part in the fourth edition, held in South Africa, as one of six qualifiers alongside Hampshire (their conquerors in the T20 final) and the T20 champions of New Zealand (Auckland Aces), Pakistan (Sialkot Stallions), Sri Lanka (Uva Next) and West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago).

Yorkshire won both their qualifying matches against Uva Next and Trinidad and Tobago to top the second qualifying pool and join pool one winners Auckland Aces in the competition’s main stage.

That stage also featured eight sides handed direct qualification (the top-four IPL teams, the winner and runner-up of the Australian Big Bash, and the winner and runner-up of the South African T20 Challenge).

The 10 teams combined were divided into two groups of five, with Yorkshire finishing bottom of Pool B after three defeats and a no-result.

Sydney Sixers, who had first dibs on Mitchell Starc, the Australian pace bowler who had starred in Yorkshire’s run to the T20 final, went on to win the Champions League, thrashing Highveld Lions by 10 wickets in the final.

Yorkshire were hampered by injuries and unavailability throughout but their players gained valuable experience.

Pace bowler Iain Wardlaw, for instance, had the distinction of bowling MS Dhoni against Chennai, while Yorkshire also faced such luminaries as Steve Smith and Sachin Tendulkar, their first overseas player back in the day.

Moxon recalled: “It was a shame because we weren’t able to take our full side out as the England lads weren’t available and Mitchell Starc wasn’t able to play for us.

“Having said that, it gave great opportunity to our other players and considering that we had quite a few of our younger lads playing, we did remarkably well really to get through to the second (main) stage.

“Our team was badly affected through no fault of our own, but it was a really good competition and great to pit yourselves against the IPL teams, for instance.

“We were competitive throughout and it was a great experience for everyone concerned.”

There is a feeling among its advocates that the Champions League was ahead of its time and that the commercial model was not then properly developed.

The T20 landscape has changed significantly since 2014 but the biggest challenge would be how to squeeze it into the schedule.

English teams did not even enter the last two years of the previous incarnation due to clashes with the county season.

Critics may wonder if the idea could ever seriously catch on, with a specific window surely necessary to any success.

Moxon, who believes that English representation should once again consist of at least the winner and runner-up of the T20 Blast, added: “It would have to be played during our off-season, and fitting in tournaments is always the problem.

“There’s no way we could get it into the English summer, particularly with The Hundred as well coming along.

“It depends how big a tournament they want to make it, but certainly the finalists of our T20 competition should take part in my opinion, and if you could get more than two English teams involved, brilliant.

“I think it was scrapped last time because it was expensive to put on – flying teams in from all around the world,” added Moxon.

“It’s an expensive tournament to put on and needs huge sponsorship and, of course, the television interest; I don’t think it had the sponsors before to maintain it.

“It could be lucrative for the sides involved, but I don’t think we made that much money out of it as a club when we took part. But it’s not just the money though, is it?

“It’s the experience for your team and your players. That’s the big thing.”

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James Mitchinson