Ganeshbabu Venkat | 9:42pm gmt 27 Apr 2011
We could see more players like Chris Gayle opting to skip national duty.
The raging issue in cricket for the past few weeks has been the country vs club debate,even the ousted IPL commissioner Lalit modi has been tweeting and leaving comments in our site that IPL was never created to trump country over club. However the recent developments with SriLanka Cricket and WICB have given a clear message that players are on the look out for themselves and this hollow and hypocritical country vs club rhetoric won't resonate for long. Despite all it's criticisms, side-shows, connoisseurs dissing that it's not cricket, arm chair aficionados alleging this is spoiling cricket, IPL has managed to survive successfully for four seasons and has gone on to create a neo-liberal sports model which has virtually changed the landscape of the game.
The administrators however have failed to grasp it and are struggling to come to terms with this model.Make no mistake, the IPL is benefiting everyone from the guy who paints the hoardings to the richest cricketer in the planet.There is no doubt that BCCI will fill it's coffers through TV rights.The teams and their owners get their share from the gate receipts and the foreign boards whose players are part of the show get a 10 percent cut.Even WICB who were blasted publicly by Chris Gayle on a radio show get a 10 percent fee on top of the US$ 650K that Gayle was paid by Royal Challengers Bangalore.They even managed to work out a deal with Dwayne Bravo and Kieoran Pollard in such a way that they get to use them and also let them play the IPL.In fact Bravo was given the go ahead to miss the Test matches against Pakistan.The Sri Lankan board for all the noises they are making still gets a fat purse because of the number of their players in the league and some of them being paid salaries close to US $1Million.Then what is all the hoopla about one may ask.
The problem is if a player does not represent India, Australia or England in international games or does not have contract with these nations their yearly retainer contracts are far less when compared to these three nations and they could potentially make twice or thrice the amount of their retainers by playing the IPL or the big bash or any such tournament.It is also very clear that most of the international cricketers want to be part of this tamasha and hence it would only make more sense to create a window rather than leave the player's fate in the hands of their respective boards or put the players in a predicament that they have to chose between national duties or IPL.At this
time West Indies and Sri Lanka are the only two nations that have home seasons and tours directly affecting their schedule. Say, for instance the IPL decides to hold the games that clash with South Africa or New zealand we would hear rumblings from these teams as well for they are not as well compensated.Already Daniel Vettori has set the ball rolling by strongly arguing in favor of creating a window for the IPL. Don't think for a minute this will not happen for Modi mooted the idea of two IPL's not long ago before he was ousted.
I bet my bottom dollar that the jingoistic fans, the inept administrators, journalists and arm chair critics who preach that players should put country above club would willfully take an opportunity to earn money if they were presented with a chance to do only 10 percent of their job and are paid more than what they are paid today. This is exactly what the IPL presents to the players. Of course we could still have arguments that national boards would lose their return on investment if the said player is playing in a format that does not benefit his country and does cause wear and tear or an injury that would otherwise not have occurred, reducing the player's national career even further.
Then we have another set of people living in the past who argue that Test cricket is pristine and this is hit and giggle cricket and this is causing massive damage to the game. However one needs to understand that the audience for this T20 are totally different, Especially from the sub continent who would rather watch Pollard hit six after six than having to sit through a saaas-bahu tear jerker soap opera, not only that, this provides for a complete entertainment package for a night out for the whole family. The administrators who talk that Test cricket is the highest priority need to get their heads examined. For the record, Bangladesh have not played a Test in India and Zimbabwe have not played a Test in India for almost 10 years.
All these arguments aside we are in that day and age where everyone's ultimate goal is to make money and the model should be created with minimal damage to all the stakeholders as much as possible.All said and done at the end of the day an average cricketer who does not go on to represent his national team has maybe 10 years to maximize his earning potential.
It's clearly evident that the players want to embrace this change and the key to the success lies in how the administrators handle this precarious situation. For a start the ICC needs to step up and work with the concerned national boards to carve out a calendar for IPL as part of the FTP or else we could soon be seeing a depressing state of affairs where players would want to retire from Tests at an an increasingly younger age in order to extend their marketability and contracts. The trend has started already with Lasith Malinga giving up on Tests and Chris Gayle deciding to opt out of national duty. The IPL is not perfect, but it has created a huge opportunity for the players to make money who otherwise would still be begging their national boards for first class train tickets. It has made domestic players all around the world breath a little easily. Love it or hate it, The IPL is not going away it's up to the stakeholders to ring the changes or be left behind.