Country vs Franchise Cricket

Nicholas Pooran in action for his IPL franchise Lucknow Super Giants earlier this year 2023. Source: AP Photo

It seems as though Cricket is propelling along the same path as football, with clubs having authority over the players. With this progression, it means therefore International Cricket could be severely impacted. Bilateral series henceforth would suffer and national teams will basically be assembled just before major global tournaments such as the World Cup. Players would have played very minimum bilateral series and franchise teams will have the final say in releasing those players to these mega events. That’s the way of modern sports unfortunately.

     The Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises have become predominant employers of overseas players over their national boards. They are also proceeding with multi-tournament contracts that have already been offered to some cricketers. Just recently, England’s opening batter in T20 Internationals, Alex Hales, announced his retirement. It just goes to show that franchise Cricket is taking over the World. These tournaments have popped up globally over the last 15 years like pimples on a teenager’s face going through puberty. Such is the reality of life. 

     According to statistics, eight of the IPL’s 10 franchises own at least one team in another league in a different country. The owners of the Delhi Capitals, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders have both taken possession of teams in new T20 tournaments in the UAE, South Africa and most recently in the United States of America. The Major League Cricket T20 tournament in the U.S.A. held its inaugural competition not too long ago, where the Mumbai Indians New York franchise won the final thanks to Nicholas Pooran’s swash buckling unbeaten 137 against the Seattle Orcas. Some cricketers have been offered multi-club deals of a lifetime. 

    Being a smaller Cricketing nation, the amount of money CWI possesses it’s improbable for the players to choose over franchise teams. One would be bold to say maybe even impossible. 

     The Cricket panorama is interchanging swiftly, and the mushrooming number of T20 tournaments offering irresistible contracts to the game’s most talented certainly means that countries are therefore on the back-burner. A primary example of this is the West Indies team. For the last decade and a half they have certainly struggled to field their first strength team due to schedules clashing with these franchises. The likes of Dwayne Bravo would have had his Test career cut short because of this. West Indian fans no doubt were certainly robbed and no wonder the national stadiums around the Caribbean have been half empty. The West Indies need their best team on the park to be competitive. No wonder they did not qualify for the Champions Trophy back in 2017. Politics of course played its role but let’s leave that for another time. 

     One can argue the fact that choosing franchise teams over country is ideal due to the amount of money a player can earn. Playing six weeks of IPL can pay 5 times more than playing for your country in twelve months. This is the reality of the World and one cannot blame the Cricketers for grabbing these opportunities. At the end of the day, it’s their personal income. Informal conversations have begun with players from West Indies, England, New Zealand and Australia to play year round for franchise teams over country. However some national boards have already taking defensive measures to counter-attack this.

     The England and Wales Cricket Board are planning to increase match fees and offer multi-year contracts to main players. This is one way of retaining its top players. Something similar should be done by Cricket West Indies but sadly their board do not have the money to pay the West Indian Cricketers. Being a smaller Cricketing nation, the amount of money CWI possesses it’s improbable for the players to choose over franchise teams. One would be bold to say maybe even impossible. Teams like South Africa, New Zealand and Bangladesh will be in the same boat. This boat is similar to the Titanic and it’s sinking. 

     We have already seen the Ashes series between rivals England and Australia being successful, however for the first time ever in its history of over one hundred and fifty years, Test Cricket won’t be played in August due to the Hundred tournament in England. How sad is that? To me, Test Cricket is the ultimate form of the game and traditionally should not be meddled with. Money talks in the end. In the long run, there must be a method implemented so that International games and franchise Cricket can coexist. It must become more urgent as these leagues have accelerated in the last two years. A fixed global schedule must be created otherwise stadiums in minor Cricketing countries will continue to be filled to half of its capacity. For now, franchise Cricket seems to be the winner based on the crowd turnout Worldwide. 


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