With the number of T20 leagues increasing day by day around the world, the Indian Premier League (IPL), just threw shade at the rest of the cricketing world by introducing new IPL contracts. The said tournament, one of the oldest around the world, just got bigger last year when two new teams were introduced. The mega event spans around two months and is always the talk of the town even when it’s not happening. But what do these new contracts mean for the international players and the rest of the T20 leagues? Let’s take a look
Related: How IPL is a League of its own
New IPL contracts: What do they mean
According to sources many of the franchises in the Indian League are in talks with big names in international cricket to offer them long contracts. What it means is that the recruited players will then play in T20 leagues around the world representing that particular franchise. It is imperative to mention that many franchises have stakes in other leagues around the world like the SA20, UAE, Caribbean, and the new USA version Major League Cricket, which is all set to launch this July.
Heath Mills, executive chairman of the Global Players’ Body (FICA), confirmed that franchises are in talks with players to represent them in the 20-over games of the leagues while talking to ESPN.
“Without going into the specifics of individual conversations, they are about a player being available to play for a franchise in different T20 leagues. A franchise might have three or four teams globally, so they might want the player in multiple competitions – as opposed to just the IPL. It’s not necessarily about signing a player up for all competitions exclusively but rather additional ones to their IPL team,”
Players who will take up the offer will then play for the mentioned leagues and will no longer be subject to ownership by the boards and counties. Only the owned franchise will decide when and where they will play. With the hype the news has created, however, the contracts are still an abstract concept, and only unofficial discussions have taken place among the stakeholders.
International players already in talks
According to Times UK, five to six English players have been offered these long contracts. While names were not named, it’s being said that top players have been offered the spots and the offers were not limited to England players only. Big names from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and West Indies have been presented with the lucrative offer as well. Last year, Trent Bould declined a New Zealand contract for the sake of playing league cricket
These covenants are not only long-term and offer truck-loads of money more than what players are being paid by the boards, but they also offer a much more relaxed working load as compared to their international duty. Sparsely spaced tournaments, no bilaterals, zero stress about ICC tournaments, and a fair recovery time for body and muscles. What more does a cricketer need?
The possible drawbacks
It’s as if the increase in the global short-format leagues weren’t already consuming regular international cricket, and now with the new IPL contracts, it will further hurt its quality and quantity. IPL, already a lucrative player magnet and an eye candy for the global cricketing fraternity will now attract more cricketers to it. The Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) which already has much impact and control over major cricket boards around the world will have its influence increase ten folds.
It may not sound very daunting, but it will massively impact boards, associations, and leagues that do not carry any stakes by the IPL. Take the Pakistan Super League for example. With every edition, the franchises strive to inculcate big names in their teams. With such contracts in action, it would be a struggle to attract and add prominent star power to the tournament messing up entire algorithms for which these leagues were designed. Along with this, it will further shrink the 50-over games, a format already wounded by T20 cricket.
A solution as proposed by Heath Mills
Mills thinks that incorporating a T20 league window while planning bilaterals can be a handy solution for the suffocation that has been created by this short format of the game. This way, there will be less pressure and exertion on the players and they will not succumb to offers such as this. Boards will have to compromise in order to keep players in their hand
“One option boards have is to actually come together and agree to incorporate T20 leagues in their bilatprogramramme and within that process look at creating windows for T20 leagues. You might create a window in April-May for IPL, you might create another window for T20 leagues in the southern hemisphere in January and early February, you might create another window in September before an ICC event,”
“You could look to create windows where people agree to not play any international cricket when a T20 league is happening. Everyone will need to compromise a little bit, but it is possible. Until that happens there will continue to be a collision and players will be forced to make a choice. And sadly I’m not sure that bilateral cricket will win.”
Richard Gould, CEO of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) also suggested a solution and that is simply to pay cricketers more
“We’re going to have to pay them more money,” Gould said. “That’s probably likely to be based on appearance money rather than the central-contract element because I think that gives us the most cost-effective way of dealing with any particular competitive tournament at that particular time.”
Even though the new IPL contracts are still in the talking phase and it will entirely depend upon the players’ will to take up the deal or not. To make assumptions at this stage will not be fair but planning to counter such agreements should be there. Once it’s effective and manages to rope in big names, it will change the way international cricket, especially the longer format games.