Full-time IPL Contracts and their Adverse Effects on International Cricket

The cricketing world was set abuzz soon after “Times London” reported that six English players are considering a full-time multi-million IPL contract and might end up quitting their international central contracts. The Indian Premier League (IPL) since its inception, has been a mega cricket carnival for all the festivities, drama, high voltage cricketing experience, and monetary incentives it provides the players for their participation, but there has been a long-drawn debate about how the high paying IPL contracts act as a double-edged sword and whether the high paying IPL contracts that have kept it a point of maximum interest for the cricket players are doing international cricket more harm than good.

Report Details

 The full-time IPL contracts offered are reportedly between 20 crores and 50 crores, and they’ll represent a franchise in various leagues (up to 7 months). Currently, 10 IPL franchises have teams in leagues around the world, including the CPL in the West Indies, the SA T20 in South Africa, the Global T20 League in the UAE, and the upcoming Major League T20 in the United States. There is a consideration of playing in the newly announced Saudi Arabian T20 league also.

“Initial discussions have taken place after at least six English players, including some international stars, were approached by IPL franchise owners and asked whether, in principle, they would accept a deal that would make an Indian team their main employer, rather than the ECB or an English county,” the report said.

Also Read: How PSL Can Compete Indian Premier League?

Establishment of a parallel football-like system and change of priorities for players

With the advent of an option where a player with the right set of skills required for the shorter format is given a lucrative monetary IPL contract to play for a franchise rather than representing his own country and playing the game in its purest and rawest form and emotion, he’ll always choose the former one in a capital-driven world. This will mean the establishment of a football-like system where the franchises will have a hegemonic upper hand and the international cricket representation will have lesser value, and eventually, with time, the longer format and limited overs cricket will fade away from the scene, leaving the fans with a FIFA-like tournament once in a blue moon. 

It can also lead to a situation where a player is identified by a franchise during the early stages of his career, offered a lucrative contract, and groomed to represent the franchise for the rest of his career.  We have already had cases where players have left international cricket to make themselves available for franchise cricket. We have seen many prominent international players over the years prioritise the franchise rather than their international duty; e.g., Trent Boult was playing for his IPL franchise while New Zealand was touring Pakistan for an ODI series. The peculiar case of Jasprit Bumrah’s injury-ridden career, further exacerbated by his IPL prioritisation, has affected his international career graph. All this with the current season-based IPL contracts, and with full-time IPL contracts being of such magnitude, the damage will be far greater than comprehended. 

Contrasting takeover than football.

However, there is a clear variance from football in that the BCCI generates around 80% of the total revenue of world cricket. This leads us to the possibility of it eventually dominating franchise cricket too. With a lion’s share of the market, the probability of the IPL becoming the most esteemed cricket tournament is very much on the cards, eventually even replacing the much-celebrated Cricket World Cup. This may lay waste to the true essence of the gentleman’s game and leave irredeemable scars on its heritage.

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