Masters Champions League: T20 cricket has grabbed the attention of millions of people around the world since its inception and it was the magic of a T20 game only, which has made every cricket board to get started with their Domestic T20 League. With a number of T20 leagues emerged on the global platform in the past few years, Fans were really craving for a T20 tournament which would include all the big stars from the Cricketing arena which might have hung their boots but has still mesmerized every cricket fan with their brilliant performances in the past.
The 2016 Masters Champions league was launched with the same perspective in the mind and while the league included Six teams of Fifteen players each, the most interesting part was the concept of the league which involved all the Former International Players onboard for the Coveted T20 Cricket League.
Masters Champions League Format and Player Auctions
The Masters Champions league was played in the round-robin league format with the top four teams getting qualified for the knockout rounds. The league was comprised of six teams namely Capricorn Commanders, Leo Lions, Libra Legends, Gemini Arabians, Sagittarius Soldiers, Virgo Super Kings. One of the most interesting parts in each teams were their names which were based on the Zodiac signs.
Apart from the names, even the selection criteria of the players in auctions were quite interesting. To be precise, each of the six teams was supposed to pick an icon player and the base price which was quoted was $100,000. The Next elite category belonged to the legendary players which were aligned in the A+ category (Players with 100 international caps or more). The other list of players included A Category players along with the Associate Country players. Let’s take a look at the Squad list with all the players grabbed by the respective Franchisees during the Auction.
Team Owners – Khaitan Holdings
Captain – Virender Sehwag
Muttiah Muralitharan – $100,000, Kyle Mills – $42,000, Saqlain Mushtaq – $42,000, Virender Sehwag – $550,000, Kumar Sangakkara – $550,000, Jacques Rudolph – $58,000, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan – $38,000, Justin Kemp – $68,000
Team Owners –Manyata Dutt
Captain – Brian Lara
Brian Lara – $100,000, Herschelle Gibbs – $40,000, Brendan Taylor – $70,000, James Franklin – $62,000, Johan Botha – $46,000, Robin Peterson – $80,000, Fidel Edwards – $90,000, Scott Styris – $550,000, Heath Streak – $550,000, Mohammad Tauqir – $ 10,000, Neil Carter – $10,000, Hamish Marshall – $28,000
Team Owners – Grand Midwest Group
Captain – Jacques Kallis
Jacques Kallis – $100,000, Brad Hogg – $68,000, Sourav Ganguly – $550,000, Graeme Swann – $550,000, Ryan Ten Doeschate – $76,000, Ajay Ratra – $20,000, Chris Read – $20,000, Sean Ervine – $60,000, Shaun Tait – $60,000
Team Owners- Orange Limited
Captain- Adam Gilchrist
Adam Gilchrist – $100,000, Shane Bond – $30,000, Mahela Jayawardene – $550,000, Daniel Vettori – $550,000, Khurram Khan – $22,000, Phil Mustard – $26,000, Tino Best – $42,000
Virgo Super Kings
Team Owners- Rhiti Sports
Captain- Graeme Smith
Brett Lee – $100,000, Jonty Rhodes – $40,000, Neil McKenzie – $52,000, Graeme Smith – $50,000, Azhar Mahmood – $50,000, John Mooney – $31,000, Dirk Nannes – $40,000, Owais Shah – $75,000, James Foster – $29,000
Team Owners- Pacific Owners
Captain- Paul Collingwood
Paul Collingwood – $100,000, Andrew Symonds – $80,000, Chamara Silva – $30,000, Ashwell Prince – $39,000, Upul Chandana – $30,000, Michael Vaughan – $550,000, Abdul Razzaq – $550,000
The Tournament ran from 28th January 2016 to 13 February 2016 across three cities of Abu Dhabi(Sheikh Zayed Stadium), Dubai(Dubai International Stadium) and Sharjah(Sharjah Cricket Stadium). Moreover, it was Gemini Arabians led by Former Indian Ace Batsman Virender Sehwag, who won the Inaugural Edition of Masters Champions League by defeating the team of Leo Lions by 16 Runs.
Interesting facts about Masters Champions League
It was not completely an “Old and Retired players Affair”
While most of the people thought this to be the league of all the Old and retired players who have crossed the age of 40, there were some faces within the team lists which were quite active in the Domestic circuit of various leagues across the globe. Players like Richard Levi of South Africa were also a part of the league who was just 27 years of old and while he retired from the International Cricket, He was still a part of various First-class Cricket leagues around the world. Another former Proteas player Robin Peterson was also 36 years old at that time and played like an active professional cricketer in all the matches.
The List Further Included names like 33 Old Zimbabwean player Sean Ervine, 32 years Proteas player Ryan Mclaren,33 Old West Indian Fidel Edwards and so on.
Inclusion of players from the “Unknown World”
While everyone was paying attention to the list of Big Marquee players, there were some players also in the list who belonged to the “Unknown World” and there’s hardly anyone in the Cricket Fraternity who did have a clue about their International Records. Players like Ajay Ratra, from India, were one such example that, though have played International Cricket for his country, but was hardly familiar to any of the cricket fans around. Other players like Phil Mustard from England and Malinga Bandara from Srilanka were amongst the other players from the same list.
Almost Nominal Presence of the Sub Continental Stars
While everyone knew from the start that the league would be played in UAE and everyone expected the huge fan base of Sub Continental teams like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to come over, there was hardly any presence from the marquee players from all these countries. Though there were still some famous names like Virender Sehwag from India, Kumara Sangakkara from Sri Lanka, and Saqlain Mushtaq & Abdul Razzaq around, the absence of some of the other big stars and legends from the Sub Continent camp.
This more or less decided the fate of the league eventually and that was one of the biggest reasons why fans didn’t find the league interesting enough to push the organizers to make it thrive further over the coming years.
The Lankan Dominance
As Expected, the Sri Lankan players once again proved their Dominance on the Slow pitches of the UAE grounds and While the Legendary batsman Kumara Sangakkara(386 runs in 7 matches) emerged as the Top scoring player in the tournament, It was Another Sri Lankan Legend, Muttiah Muralidharan(15 Wickets in 5 matches) who scalped the most number of wickets during the whole tournament.