The Champions League T20 is to cricket what the UEFA Champions League is to football – an international, club-based competition, where the top cricket clubs from across the world participate in the tournament.
The cricket boards of India, Australia and South Africa are the stake-holders in this competition, with India grabbing a major 50% stake. The top club sides, based on their domestic T20 standings each year qualify for the Champions League T20.
The Champions League T20 was to kick-start from 2008 in India, but the terror attacks of 26/11 pushed the start of the tournament to 2009. There were a total of 12 teams in its inaugural edition, divided into four groups of three apiece.
The top two from each of the groups qualified for the second round where they played two more matches and the top four of these eight went into the semi-finals. This was followed by the final. New South Wales Blues beat the crowd-favourite Trinidad and Tobago in the final to win the tournament after none of the three Indian sides qualified for the semi-finals.
In 2010, the tournament was held in South Africa and the format was tweaked to fit in only 10 teams instead of 12. They were divided into two groups of five teams apiece. The top two from each group came through to the semi-finals and this was followed by the final.
The 2011 edition of the tournament had a similar format to the previous year, but with a slight difference. Instead of the ten teams qualifying directly for the competition, seven were given a direct entry and six other sides were made to play in the playoffs to decide on the remaining three sides. Four of the 10 teams that qualified for the main draw were Indian sides, while there were two from Australia and South Africa. One West Indian and one English team made up the 10.
From the Test-playing nations, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe-based sides have never been invited to play in the tournament. Pakistan were invited in the first edition in 2008 that got cancelled. The viability of the competition has often been a question-mark with the lack of stadium crowds and poor TV interest making it difficult for the tournament to sustain its current form.