Why are cricketers giving more importance to T20 leagues?

Why are cricketers giving more importance to T20 leagues?

Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand skipper recently bid adieu to cricket. His retirement came as a shocker for cricket pundits and fans from across the globe. The right hand batsman was enjoying his cricket and there was hardly any bowler who could bowl at his best in front of him. The runs were flowing from his bat but the player himself had some other plans in his mind. If we closely analyze the reason behind his outcome, it has a lot to do with T20 Leagues. We have seen over the years that New Zealand players are forced to leave Indian Premier League in the last phase because of their national team’s commitment. It has hampered their overall price in the auctions as Franchises are not willing to sell out more for players who are part of the competition for a brief period of time.

 

Apart from this, such players are not able to play other T20 leagues in the world which is hampering their financial status. For the first time in history of cricket, players find themselves divided between loyalties to the nation or franchise based cricket. There is no denying the fact that cricketers from West Indies are gunning for hefty packages since long but when a player like Brendon McCullum jumps in, the world has to take notice of his activities. Even when a player feels proud to represent his national team instead of some T20 event, his fortune is deeply trashed because of missing out on the money which is being offered by T20 teams. There are numerous players who have or are earning millions just because they have time to be part of the Slam Bang leagues. Yuvraj Singh, the left hand batsman, was bought for a whopping Rs.16 crore by Delhi Daredevils in 2015.

 

Apart from him, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Robin Uthappa and many others have enjoyed huge financial gain in the cash rich league. Even an unknown Indian player or a less fancied foreign star have managed to bagged hum sum during the course of bidding. With flow of so much money, the structure of the game has changed. Players are not ready to let go this cash and have made up their mind regarding their priorities in terms of national team or club based cricket. The upcoming cricketers are being groomed keeping in mind the demand and requirement of T20 cricket with sole purpose of becoming a shorter format specialist. With T20 cricket offering fame and financial security, the budding cricketers are no more interested in the other two formats of the game. KC Cariappa who was bought by the KKR for an astonishing Rs. 2.4 crore was picked by the IPL franchise after seeing his performance in the Karnataka Premier League, which is a T20 event. It is enough to show that domestic cricket is not the ultimate and foremost thing these days. If a player picked up fight with his cricket board in the past, his career was ended there and then. He was not able to regain his star status once barred from the governing body. However, the situation has now completely changed with the arrival of T20 leagues. Chris Gayle, who is more often at loggerheads with the West Indies Cricket Board has managed to stay in limelight because of his performance in the T20 competitions.

 

The fans hardly cares about the jersey he is wearing as they are interested in his game. Pretty much like him, Kevin Pietersen, the former English skipper, whose international career has been ended by the English and Wales Cricket Board, has become the heartthrob of masses because of his performance for T20 clubs in India, South Africa and Australia. It demonstrate the fact that player doesn’t need international cricket to keep going as franchise based cricket is enough to make them a huge star. The other reason behind players switching to T20 league has a lot to do with pressure. Representing country has always kept a cricketer under pressure because of the stake but it is totally different in T20 events. A cricketer can go out and perform according to his own comfort despite being the most demanding format of sport. With full-on entertainment, king-sized standards, close bonding among cricketers of different nationalities and huge pay packages, the T20 cricket has become the real norm of cricket. No matter how much international players lay emphasis on the importance of Test cricket and ODIs, they are more inclined towards a competition which offers them big bucks. AB de Villiers, the South African skipper, once stated that fans are losing interest in bilateral series as they are finding T20 leagues more interesting and easy to follow. This has also thrown an advantage for the countries hosting their individual T20 competitions.

 

Moreover, the present functioning of ICC is heavily staked in favor of India, Australia and England which means that financial resources will be used up in favor of the above mentioned countries. The other big fishes of cricket are not able to offer handsome amount of cash to their players, who are getting more inclined towards franchise based cricket because of this ongoing duel. We can’t run away from the fact that Franchisebased cricket is here to stay and might well be the future of the sport. The governing body of international cricket will have to make sure that its earnings are equally divided among the top nations and there is an urgency of giving more financial aid to countries like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and associate nations. The three way race is not in favor of the game and if this continues, we might see the total dominance of T20 based competitions. If this happens, it will be a total loss for ICC in the future. The growing popularity of T20 leagues is giving more powers to private businessmen who are willing to experiment with their own ways of controlling the game of cricket. It is the right time to sit and discuss about the ways of stopping players from going towards the attraction of franchise based cricket as it will kill international cricket in the long run with big stars retiring early in order to be part of the slam bang competitions.


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