Karnataka was the first to do it, a year later, Maharashtra followed suit. Soon, more states will have their Premier Leagues based on the IPL model, albeit a lot smaller. These leagues have a lot to offer, both to the IPL franchises and the players.
The IPL teams
So far, the IPL teams were picking players on the basis of performances in the domestic season. Since very little T20 cricket is played in a year, the selection was seldom based on their showing in this format. Hence, the teams had to rely on the feedback from their scouts or senior cricketers. But now, these leagues are giving the franchises an opportunity to watch little-known players.
Not everyone who plays cricket will play for India. And this is where IPL has raised the hopes of aspiring cricketers. Unlike the 15 places for India, there are over a 100 places up for grabs in the IPL. These leagues are giving a lot of talented players an opportunity to showcase their skill and make some money. I know a lot of good players, who've unfortunately not had a chance to play first-class cricket, but get Rs 500 per match in local circuit.
These matches are their only source of income along with their share of the prize money i.e. if their team wins. They also coach in different academies for a paltry amount. These players would definitely stand to gain a lot from these leagues.
But there's always a flip side. While on the one hand, these leagues are giving youngsters a platform to impress, on the other, there's a risk of 14-15-year-olds getting carried away by T20 cricket. T20 is here to stay and eventually every player will have to play this format, but I'd rather have youngsters learn the basics first. T20 cricket should be out of bounds for under-16 kids.
My concern isn't limited to domestic premier leagues. Most age group and school tournaments are also turning into T20 games and these are worrying signs. The kid who plays two consecutive dot balls gets sworn at. This training is set to ruin the basic foundation.
One might argue that having an age limit might not allow the next Sachin Tendulkar to come to the fore. My answer would be that not playing in one format wouldn’t hurt the players' growth and also someone as talented would not take time to adapt. We might lose a year in the bargain but if that saves thousands of cricketers, it's worth the loss.