18 December 2008

With the Champions League cancelled, can Middlesex be there again in 2009?

It has been well documented that the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League scheduled for December has been cancelled because of security fears following the terror attacks in Mumbai. For any cricket fan, this was obviously very disappointing news. However, for one team in particular it was very difficult to take.

English cricket’s representatives Middlesex were excited at the prospect of playing in such a high profile tournament. Their captain, Shaun Udal, admitted that it was ‘devastating news’ that the competition was to be delayed until October 2009. He also went on to admit that the news would affect the club from a ‘financial’ point of view, although most disappointing was the fact that they wouldn’t be playing cricket.

The difficulty for Middlesex is that they are not automatically eligible for next year’s competition. Unlike the teams from Australia, South Africa and India, they will have to win the domestic Twenty20 competition in England again to qualify.

With this in mind, it is worth considering whether they have the ability to do just this. Their captain is confident that his team can ‘go out and win the Twenty20 cup again’, but whether this is realistic is up for debate. Can they do it again or is it someone else’s turn to shine in cricket’s shortest form?

In terms of a team winning the tournament two years running, well it has never happened before. In the five years that the competition has been running, Leicestershire are the only team to have won it twice – in 2004 and 2006.

Therefore, for Middlesex to come out on top again they would have to perform extremely well. Especially when you consider the fact that the standard and competitiveness will be increased because of the Champions League place at stake. As much as they say they are determined to win it, it may also be hard for the Middlesex players to motivate themselves to do it all again. We shall see.

Something that it worth noting though is that they team they possess is more than capable of at least making it to the semi-finals. Then, as we all know, anything can happen.

During last year’s finals day, Middlesex comfortably saw off the challenge of Durham in the semi-final thanks to a blistering innings from South African Tyron Henderson, who was a key player for them in last year’s competition.

Then, in a thrilling final, they beat 2007 Champions Kent by three runs. The key performers including Owais Shah – who hit a superb 75 off 35 balls – and Henderson again as he conceded just one run off his final two overs to ensure Kent failed to chase down 188 to win in their 20 overs.

So, in terms of the 2009 Twenty20 cup, it is important that Middlesex have the likes of Shah and Henderson available and in form. They have proven many times that they are match winners and as long as they are in Udal’s team –they have a chance.

In fact, whether they are able to re-sign Henderson could prove decisive. As things stand, he is the leading wicket taker in Twenty20 cricket. Anyone who has a player with this record in their team must have a chance of progressing to the latter stages of the competition!

Finally for today, it is worth taking a look at Murali Kartik’s contribution to Middlesex’s Twenty20 glory. The Indian spinner took 13 wickets at an average of 18 in last years’ tournament and there is no doubt he played a huge part in the team’s success. Slow bowling always seems to work in the shorter form of the game, so Kartik can be pleased with how he performed.

Overall, as long as Kent have Shah and Henderson on form, a spin bowler of Kartik’s nature and the experience of Udal – there is every chance the cricket odds will back them to win the competition again. Their biggest obstacle may well be the challenge of winning the it two years running, but there is no doubt that they will do everything they can to be the English team in next years Champions League.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

1 comment:

Soulberry said...

Most of all, the T20 format makes it foolish to presume the same team shall win again when among equals.