The modern cricket has changed over the years not only in terms of the laws and way of playing but also in terms of the format of the game. The newer cricket generation is more about playing the shortest format across the globe. The gaining popularity of the T20 Leagues all over the world are an evidence for the same. After the success of IPL (Indian Premiere League), the cricket world has witnessed the emergence of similar leagues in the name of BBL (Big Bash League in Australia), CPL (Caribbean Premiere League in the Caribbean Islands), BPL (Bangladesh Premiere League in Bangladesh), Natwest T20 Blast, PSL(Pakistan Super League in Pakistan) and may others. The leagues have created an aura of the love for T20 cricket due to the grandiose statistics and flamboyant cricket. These T20 leagues have bestowed the fans with an opportunity to watch the ‘best in the business’ perform on one stage. The cricket world has seen the on-field enemies becoming the on and off field friends, courtesy- Cricket Leagues. The leagues have contributed to the development of young players who get an opportunity to play alongside the greats of the game and be trained under the finest International cricket.Cricketing knowledge has crossed the boundaries to land in the various parts of the globe.
Contrary to the positives from the leagues, the world has often witnessed the other side of the T20 leagues. International cricket is the one to suffer due to the cash rich leagues in various countries of the world. The existence of the leagues throughout the year makes it difficult for the cricket boards to plan bilateral series and International tournaments accordingly. The most famous league of the all, IPL consumes nearly two and a months of the calendar considering the break the cricketers demand after a tiring one and a half month season. BBL happens in the months of December and January, thereby making international players unavailable for International cricket.
However, the cricket board does hold the right to pull back the players from the T20 leagues for International duties. The recent incidence reacting the same was PCB’s order to call back International players like Imad Wasim, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz (13 overall) from the ongoing CPL to fulfil the domestic duties.This means that the players are inclined over to prioritise the leagues over the international and domestic cricket. The unresolved issue between the West Indies Cricket Board and the players is a living example of the suffering of International cricket. Quality players like Darren Sammy, Dwayne Bravo ,etc do not play international cricket but have registered their presence in almost every T20 league. Players like Brendon McCullum have called time on their careers in international cricket at an early stage but continue playing the leagues across the globe.
The unavailability of the players is not the only concern. Playing more and more tournaments for the fame and money puts on additional pressure on their bodies. Injuries and fatigue have led to the shortening of their quality international cricket performances. Some prominent players now sit on the sidelines for a long time and choose tournaments they would like to play. Australian Superstar Chris Lynn is on the verge of ending his cricket career after being injuring his right shoulder in BBL and IPL as well. Lynn missed out the BBL season due to shoulder injury and then dislocated the shoulder during the IPL as well.
The gaining popularity of the T20 Leagues is a big dent on the fan base of International Cricket. ICC and FICA will have to step up to ensure that the T20 Leagues coexist with International Cricket.Speaking on the priority of International cricket,Tony Irish,the head of FICA(Federation of International Cricketers’ Association) said,”FICA does, and always has, supported international cricket. And we want it to be protected and enhanced. The discussion input and survey data we have from players around the world indicates that players still want to represent their countries. However, because the game is competing against itself (domestic T20 and international cricket scheduling overlap), and there is no coherent global structure or scheduling, players are increasingly conflicted and are forced to make a choice as to where they play. There is an opportunity to ensure that the whole landscape is the best it can be.We believe this process is about finding a balance and a workable structure that enables the international game to survive and thrive, but also acknowledges and foresees where the game is heading and the role of domestic T20 cricket. There are lots of moving parts within that including scheduling, regulatory and contractual frameworks, economics and commercial considerations etc. At the moment most of these things are done based on individual country’s thinking. We would like that to change to global thinking.”