[EXCLUSIVE] Sameen Rana "We need to think about re-launching a Champions League tournament in T20 Cricket"

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In an exclusive video chat with Saj, the COO and team manager for Lahore Qalandars speaks about the rise of the Lahore Qalandars after a difficult first few seasons at the Pakistan Super League, the Lahore Qalandars culture, how close were they to sacking Aaqib Javed, the thinking behind making Shaheen Shah Afridi Lahore Qalandars skipper, the difficulty in managing players workloads, Qalandars pride in developing cricketing talent, looks ahead to the next PSL, future changes to the PSL and more

 
That was a really insightful conversation and I admire the franchise that he has built over the years and epecially how they are able to scout and nurture emerging tallent.
Why can't he be the PCB manager
 
Ideally we should have it.

The only awkward thing was that players play for multiple franchises during different times in a year and as a result there’s no club loyalty in T20 cricket yet. This really takes the interest of the fan away from the tournament.

If every club in cricket has exclusive rights over its players then this tournament would obviously be worth watching.
 
Would love it to be honest.
It would be like the uefa champions league version of cricket. Will bring eyes from across the globe.

But how would it work? Ipl has the advantage with regards to pay and the discrepancy can be quite huge compared to other leagues.

Best of Pakistan against best of India, Australia, carribean teams, England. Would be a premiere event. Another important thing aspect to consider is fanbase. Lower quality teams won't be self sustainable if they aren't able to attract a passionate fan base.
 
Why Sameen Rana? I have said this in PP so many times that Champions League has the potential to be the best tournament if implemented correctly. It would even be better that T20 world cup. You are basically creating a competition where both regional and national prides are at stakes. It can't get any better.

Ask any football fan and they would say Champions league is the best and most prestigious tournament. If cricket can implement something similar, it will be gold.

I think PCB should take the initiative and kick start this tournament. Maybe IPL sides will not participate initially but if its a success then surely they would.
 
Can’t happen without the blessings of BCCI. Which means, PSL franchises will have nothing to do with the tournament.
 
If that does happen, who will the overseas players, ones who play in various leagues, choose to play for? Best payers?
 
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Was a great concept, would really love to see the best teams duel it out. Last time 4 ipl teams was an overkill
 
If that does happen, who will the overseas players, ones who play in various leagues, choose to play for? Best payers?
The last thing we need is another circus league. Money-grab like these kill the game of cricket. Look at Exhibit A: West Indies.
 
I am not a fan of this idea. Reason is a lot of players play for multiple teams. T20 leagues are not organized right now and then we have a few T10 leagues as well, which don't even have a status.


ICC & other boards should better focus on growing the sport hy increasing the number of teams for the World Cups. We have seen how competitive associates and lower ranked full members were in the last T20 World Cup and the recently concluded World Cup qualifier was also entertaining.
 
It would be a great spectacle wouldn't it.

Maybe start with 8 top T20 teams from various leagues.

In terms of the players who play for 2 or more teams, let the players choose who their first choice team is and if that team wants that player. If not then they go to their second choice etc.

Could be wrapped up in 2 weeks the whole tournament.

The issue will be the BCCI and when to fit the tournament within an already packed calendar.
 
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Lahore Qalandars have certainly come a long way since the start of the PSL. They struggled in the starting seasons but in the last couple of seasons, they have won back to back titles. They really made great work with their PDP program and explore highly talented players like Haris Rauf and Zaman Khan. They also did well to stick with Aaqib Javed who got a lot of bashing in the starting seasons of the PSL but now many of his critics have become his fans with the amazing success of his team in recent years.
 
I real love how Sameen Rana is giving his 100% to Pakistani cricket, and I really admire his efforts in promoting Lahore Qalandars and giving opportunities to emerging talent.

But i really want to know where fawad rana has been disappeared suddenly?
 
While i would love a T20 champions trophy, but i dont want it to happen.

I dont want to get into a stupid discussion where India fields 4 teams, and Pakistan fields 1 while Australia fields 2 teams. Everyone knows when it comes to India and BCCI there is nothing that is fair. Plus, the Indian fans will also defend that aswell. Infact, BCCI can field 8 teams in a 10 team tournament and Indian fans will also defend that.

Point is, there is too much politics to let this tournament exist.

Now before someone comes and goes on about how UEFA has an imbalance of teams, i dont care. The teams in this should be equal per country.

Than there will be the issue of hosting aswell. Pakistan will not get to host, India will delay visas like they did in the past.

Great idea, but BCCI politics wont let is floruish
 
The CL or whatever it was called.
It was dominated by IPL teams and was before the PSL had even started.

If it was played now, it should be a lot stronger and be much more competitive and interesting.
 
It was dominated by IPL teams and was before the PSL had even started.

If it was played now, it should be a lot stronger and be much more competitive and interesting.
Maybe, but any teams that show up the IPL won't be allowed to compete.
 
Maybe, but any teams that show up the IPL won't be allowed to compete.
That would be the whole point of this tournament.

An equivalent of the World Club Championship in football, where the best club sides play against each other, otherwise there is no point in having it.

I think Qalandars would be right up there amongst the top sides.
 
This is not a good idea. Cricket is not like football.

They tried it before and it didn't work.
 
During which time slot in the calendar will this tournament be played? IPL already hogs a significant portion of the annual schedule. A tournament like this will also need an exclusive period due to most international players participating. Which then begs the question, will it be adding further fuel to the fire that is killing ODI cricket?
 
Fascinating interview, found his answers on managing player workloads very informative.
 
So here is my theory...

(1) One requirement in order for a T20 Champions League to be an actual T20 Champions League, then players can only play for one of these franchises.

(2) in order for (1) for happen, then the franchise leagues need to become actual leagues (in terms of duration) and be 8 -9 months rather than 1 -2 months. Otherwise , if they were still 1 - 2 months approx. long, then players would justify playing all around the world.

A very important note: for each franchise in all the leagues, there can only be maximum of 5 overseas players in a squad of 18 or a squad of 15. This is to prevent the top leagues to have the majority of overseas players.

(3) Because of (2) now the T20 franchise leagues are going to be played at the same time as each other., basically the same as how the top football leagues are played at the same time as each other.

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(4) There are a huge number of leagues being made left, right and centre. If the 'one team only' rule would be applied, then a lot of the leagues would struggle. And so there needs to be a reduction of leagues.

(5) There also needs to be control of the number of formats. T20 Franchise itself is a sports format (think abstract, if this makes sense). So now there is currently Test, ODI, T20 international, T20 Franchise, & Other formats. In my opinion, im confident that in order for a good balance for the "great" game of cricket, there can only be three formats, so the two formats I am getting rid of is all the other format leagues and Test cricket. Yes you heard that correct.

When (5) happens, this will allow a lot more scheduled room for T20 leagues to be scheduled in an organised way. But still another problem happening is too many leagues. So imo there should be a division of the T20 frnahcose leagues.

Have a Division 1 Ranked T20 Franchise Leagues: These are T20 Leagues that can be played in most months of the year, and aren't largely restricted by weather conditions, and different seasons. So for example, any league based in New Zealand can never be Ranked as Division 1, due to limiting weather conditions. Additionally, all Division 1 Leagues must have a healthy/ large popularity, potential and/or history. These Division 1 T20 leagues are the only leagues in which the teams that play in a champions league. Heres what I think they are:

- Indian Premier League (India)
- Pakistan Super League (Pakistan)
- Big Bash League (Australia)
- Caribbean Premier League (West Indies)
- Major League Cricket (United States & Canada?)
- South Africa Based League (If its not weather limited)
- Bangladesh Premier League or Saudi-Arabia Based league, once its developed
- UAE Based league

Those are 8 leagues right there for Division 1 leagues, meaning the best t20 leagues a player could play for. Is 8 too much? Because there arent that many cricket players to fill that many spots maybe

Division 2 Leagues: All other leagues. Division 2 leagues can only run for a maximum period of a month and a half. In my opinion they cant be mentioned or televised on cricket media websites, TV channels, becuase they are not meant to be major/ focused on, because with cricket, its timportnat to know that htigns can get saturated very wucikly and very easily.

Another point: A player can only play for one Division 1 team and can only play for one Division 2 Team.

So what now?

Well I don't really know. Have an annual Champions league tournament I guess, where we can start of with the top 2 teams from those 8 division 1 leagues.

But even after all those things I wrote, I don't think a champions league would be happening, because the current schedule with all those formats is too busy, especially since it looks like Test cricket wont be leaving soon.
 
The Champions League will only happen if the BCCI and Indian media are in favour. That is the bottom line.
 
It will happen as long as Pakistani team is not participating. If any Pak domestic team is allowed to participate then BCCI will never let it happen.
 
It will not happen. BCCI will not let it happen as they want IPL to be the premier tournament for league cricket.
 
Put aside BCCI for now.

What would you want as a fan?
CL T20 can be an amazing concept. Best 2 teams from every league competing is like watch All Stars for 3 weeks.
Pollard was discovered in the CL T20 tournament. But for this, more space will have to be created in International Cricket calendar. I would personally
1. Reduce bilateral ODIs..
2. Make test series of 3 tests minimum for any series between two test playing teams,
3. make WTC a best of 3 final series.
4.Put a cap on Bilateral T20I Series/matches to keep the relevance of T20 WC.
 
Put aside BCCI for now.

What would you want as a fan?
BCCI aside,
I previously said the main things which are:

There are currently five different version of cricket:
1. Test Cricket
2. ODI
3. T20 intertntionals
4. T20 Franchise
5. All the other formats

Immeditaley remove number 5, and Test cricket needs to be removed too. Apart form the legendary Ashes, Australia vs India, and other few series, Test cricket is declining in almost all ways, it should be alive today, especially when T20 is the most valuable format of cricket now.

Removing those two gives a lot more room for T20 franchise to expand and a T20 Champions league.

I know many still love test cricket, but the reality needs to be addressed.

Also: Get rid of ODI WC, have only T20 WC. and instead make a World ODI Championship that spans 2 years. This makes ODI matches have relevance rather than bilateral ODIs. This ODI Championship will become the biggest, and toughest prize in cricket. T20 Wc should be every 4 years.
 
Cricket needs something like this.

Something different that will interest fans, rather than T20 league after league which is frankly becoming tedious.
 
Nice concept but difficult to execute now that players have globalised and league owners have gone international.

Who does Jofra turn out for when MI Cape Town takes on MI?

Who does Rashid turn out for when GT take on Adelaide Strikers?
 
It is lovely to see such bond between the management and the players.

sameerlq1.jpeg

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If it does happen, an Indian team would probably win it every time as the players who play multiple leagues would opt for their IPL franchise (because of money). And all the other teams would be left with either local players or very average International players
 
Last time it happened, players themselves were given the choice to choose which franchise they would want to represent. If more than one franchise they played for over the past year had qualified.

But now, it can't happen as

1) the schedule is already full. Boards need to earn money through bilateral cricket as well. Cant just scrap it altogether.
Finding another one month window where no leagues take place, no bilateral takes place is IMPOSSIBLE.

2) IPL owners own teams in different leagues now which isn't the case with UEFA Champions league.

Most importantly, its awkward for the players. They would have to choose one franchise over the other which would deteriorate relationship with the franchise they would not choose.

Imagine both the UAE t20 league franchise and Lahore qualify. Shaheen gets offered more money by the UAE t20 franchise. Would he still choose Lahore?
 
Cricket needs something like this.

Something different that will interest fans, rather than T20 league after league which is frankly becoming tedious.
Need to look at practicality as well.
Finding a one month window where no leagues take place, no bilateral takes place is IMPOSSIBLE.
Cant just scrap bilateral cricket altogether
 
Another suggestion could be what the Ryder Cup is in golf.

Maybe a series between the best of Asia versus the Rest of the World.

Would be fascinating and great viewing.
 
Could be back to square one for Lahore Qalandars if they become the first team to be knocked out of PSL 9
 
This would work out perfectly for Pak cricket.

PSL teams playing against the elite players will help recognise the truly quality players worth investing in.

Saim playing against Hazelwood, Rabada, Bumrah etc in the CL is a great test for him before he starts his Int'l. journey.
 
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