Champions League T20

Biff in Champs League doubt

2011-07-18 16:05
Graeme Smith (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Graeme Smith probably faces a race against time to represent his long-time South African franchise, the Cape Cobras, at this year's lucrative Champions League Twenty20 tournament in India.

Cricinfo reported on Monday that SA Test captain Smith, who has just had knee surgery, will require up to eight weeks of recovery after his cartilage-shaving procedure.

He picked up the injury while playing in the Indian Premier League for Pune Warriors in April.

That means the big left-hander, 30, could be touch-and-go for the Champions League, where South Africa will be represented from September 23 to October 9 by the Cobras, the current domestic Pro20 champions, and runners-up the Warriors.

As much as its financial rewards are never to be sniffed at, the tournament will be a useful tune-up for various ring-rusty Proteas performers, ahead of the early-season visit of Australia for a T20 international (Newlands, October 13), three ODIs and two Tests.

Smith will probably be hoping to use the Champions League both to re-affirm his international limited-overs credentials - he battled for runs at the 50-overs World Cup and has not managed a half-century in his last 10 ODIs - and certainly to get into "middle" mode for the controversially short Test series against the Aussies.

But if a conservative route is taken on medical grounds to preserve him for that challenge, the Cobras could miss out on his participation in the Indian jamboree.

Better news for the Capetonians, maybe, is that Essex batsman Owais Shah may be sought by them for the Champions League now that his county will not be in a position to have "first call" on his services.

The former England player was a huge success for the Cobras in 2010/11, eventually earning the Standard Bank Pro20 Cricketer of the Year award at the annual CSA banquet a few weeks ago.

Essex last week failed to reach the knockout phase of the domestic Friends Life T20 competition; two English teams (the eventual winners and runners-up) will take part in a six-team qualifying phase for the Champions League immediately ahead of the event-proper.


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