For the second year running, Trinidad and Tobago will have to qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 tournament. And the T&T Cricket Board is not pleased.
The ESPN Cricinfo website yesterday reported that, according to a tweet by Sundar Raman, a member of the CLT20 technical committee, four teams from the Indian Premier League (IPL)—instead of three as was the case last year—will automatically play in the Champions League, which will be held this year in South Africa from October 9-28.
According to Cricinfo, six teams will contest the pre-tournament qualifiers. They are: West Indies T20 champs T&T, Pakistan's Sialkot Stallions, New Zealand's Auckland Aces, one team from Sri Lanka and two from England.
The top two from these qualifiers will join eight others in the main round--Mumbai Indians, the CLT20 defending champions; current IPL champions Kolkata Knight Riders; Chennai Super Kings; Delhi Daredevils; Sydney Sixers and Perth Scorchers from Australia's Big Bash League; and Titans and Lions from South Africa.
Commenting on the report, TTCB chief operations manager and senior chairman of selectors Dudnath Ramkessoon said: "We have not received any word yet from the committee, but having regard to what has been reported, it is rather unfortunate that we have to participate in a playoff seeing how well we have performed in our last two appearances."
In 2009, Trinidad and Tobago reached the final where they lost to New South Wales Blues and last year they topped their qualifying group but did not get out of the next group stage in the main round.
"Being the champions of the West Indies and given how well we have played, you would have thought we would have gone to the main draw because of the quality of our play and the fact that people like to see us play," Ramkessoon added.
The eight automatic qualifiers come from India, Australia and South Africa, the three countries who organise the Champions League.
Ramkessoon said further: "We have to be prepared to emerge at the top of that group. We have to try and go out there and be successful in every match. We don't want to leave to chance the second place. We are aiming to top that group to ensure that we qualify. We will prepare with that in mind."
Last year, T&T played against their IPL contracted players Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. Both Bravo's Chennai Super Kings and Pollard's Mumbai Indians, as well as Sunil Narine's team Kolkata Knight Riders will be involved in this year's tournament.
Asked about the availability of the trio, Ramkessoon said: "Nothing has been finalised.
"Discussions have taken place with the Minister of Sport (Anil Roberts). The Minister gave his contact information and asked that we communicate with the players so that they or their representatives can contact him to initiate discussions with a view to their playing for Trinidad and Tobago. That information has been sent to the players.
"Dialogue will continue," Ramkessoon stressed. "Efforts are being made to ensure that T&T fields its strongest team."
Meanwhile, a squad of 38 players has been selected to prepare for the tournament. That preparation is scheduled to start this week and Ramkessoon said five competitive matches are being planned for this month.
The dates and venues for the qualifiers for the CLT20, as well as the schedule, are yet to be released.