Fragile, handle with care
By not agreeing to provide the IPL with a window in the international schedule, the ICC has risked a massive upheaval in the game.
Because of the huge investment made by franchise owners, it’s safe to assume the IPL is here for the long haul. And given the players are being offered huge sums to participate, they are naturally eager to be involved. Therefore, the ICC would’ve been wise to utilise this opportunity to map out a cohesive future for the game rather than put it in danger.
If the ICC had sat down with the stakeholders (the representatives of IPL, ICL, Stanford Twenty20 and the players), a progressive blue print could’ve been produced so that the three prongs of the game advanced arm-in-arm. Test cricket, the
fifty and twenty-over games need each other, the players get most fulfilment from the long matches and the two shorter versions provide the entertainment value that attracts large numbers of paying customers. That way the shorter versions subsidise the longer game and everyone is happy.
However, that concept is in danger of unravelling in the current climate, as some players are considering taking the big bucks on offer from IPL and foregoing national team commitments. It’s not unusual for the administrators to resist change in an effort to retain their controlling powers; it happened in the seventies with World Series Cricket and it’s occurring again with both the IPL and ICL. Eventually, there’ll be a compromise because the ICC is built on a crumbling, early twentieth century foundation situated among modern buildings and overseeing a playing schedule that’s as unwieldy
as a five kilo cricket bat.
The idea of a club-based Twenty20 tournament that can foster the game’s globalisation has merit. That way there could
eventually be teams of legitimate professional quality in potentially lucrative markets like Europe, Japan, Malaysia and the USA, rather than sides from these regions just being chopping blocks for the traditional heavyweights.
Twenty20 competitions could be played in an officially allocated period, leaving room for Test and fifty-over matches to
be contested between the more traditional cricket playing countries. The rocket-like take-off of Twenty20 at the international level was a heaven sent opportunity to re-launch the game in an exciting new direction but the ICC has continued to concern itself more with politicking and power broking and missed the chance.
Fortunately, administration is not like batting, you get more than one chance. However, if they fluff the second innings,
the ICC is danger of being left to run the Test and fiftyover games, while private entrepreneurs hive off funds that could
have been invested in the further development of the game.