As the tri-series in Sri Lanka grinds towards a tedious climax, the stage is set for the Champions League in South Africa.
Come September, when the second edition of the Twenty20 Champions League gets under way, Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias will be there at the bull-ring in Johannesburg to croon his chartbuster ‘Hero’. But, ironically, the man who made it all happen and, indeed, was anointed king of the new-age T20 culture, will not be there.
Yes, for the first time since India turned the T20 table on its head, Lalit Modi – now its suspended chief architect – will be missing the party. It’ll be hard to forget that right there, in the heart of the South African capital, he had sat a year ago sequined in glory, when his money-spinning format had got its first billion-dollar billing.
From cricketers to administrators, politicians to tycoons, superstars to glamour dolls and, inevitably, the wannabes, they were all busy eating out of his hand. It didn’t matter if you had an expensive Gucci on you or the very exclusive Louis Vuitton, you still needed Modi around to catch the attention. So, here’s the billion-dollar question: Will the T20 extravaganza remain the same without Lalit Modi? Will the tournament retain all its jazz and, of course, the razzmatazz that he had so famously built? Or will it, as one corporate honcho pointed out, be reduced to just another middle class event?
Surely not, if the plans being put in place by all those behind the Champions League dream are concerned. With the sole exception of late night parties – BCCI now feels that’s just not cricket – every bit of effort is being made to retain the excitement that has been associated with the event.