T20 format has livened up 50-overs cricket

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Jul 2017 09:16:46


HE huge amount that the title rights of the Indian Premier League went for is reaffirmation if any was needed that the biggest league in the cricket world is as attractive as ever for brands who wish to grow and have the appetite to put cash on the table, where it matters.

Vivo were the title sponsors for the last couple of years after a soft drinks brand decided to pull out of the title sponsorship because it seemingly didn’t want to be associated with a tournament that had been tainted by match-fixing allegations the season before. With Vivo offering almost 700 crores more than their competitor, the BCCI will be smiling from ear to ear and the franchises will have started counting its profits even as everybody waits for the TV and digital rights to be awarded next month.

The IPL unfortunately has had its share of critics most of whom are unable to find anything really wrong with it excepting for the razzmatazz and glitter that the league attracts. They forget that the T20 format is mainly for entertainment and so will have glamour and more than a bit of slap dash comes with it. The cricket that is played is deadly serious though and there is not an inch given or asked for. Sure, it doesn’t quite examine the skill and temperament like the oldest of format of the game, Test match cricket does, but it is still a high pressure game.

When the limited overs game first came in there were critics then as well but just like limited overs energised Test cricket so also the T20 format has livened up limited overs cricket too. More shots began to be played in Test cricket with the influence of limited overs cricket. There are now regular scores of 300 runs in a day than before limited overs cricket came around and so spectators get to see more action than earlier.

In limited overs cricket too, teams are scoring more than 300 than ever before, thanks to T20 cricket expanding the range of shots batsmen have today. The bowlers may get hit more but the variety that they have now is far greater than before the T20 format started. So clearly cricket overall is more action-oriented than ever before. The draw which was a regular in Test cricket earlier happens only if weather interferes with play and more often than not, results are achieved in four days. That doesn’t mean four-day Tests are a good idea for there will be more draws once teams are aware that they have to play less than 450 overs that a five-day Test involves.

Back to IPL though, as BCCI has the opportunity to set a few things right after the experience of the last 10 years. With the franchises no longer required to pay the BCCI any franchise fees they will have more funds at their disposal to get the players they want. Sure, there will be a cap on the purse of each franchise as has been there earlier but has it been adhered to in practice? Bonuses for special match winning performances defeats the idea of a cap on the amount a franchise can spend on its squad. Holiday packages, non-refundable or refundable, if able, loans, shopping expeditions, expensive gifts are ways of beating the cap and the IPL Governing Council must write down strict rules if breached. The Governing Council must also think seriously about the huge difference in fees that the Ranji Trophy player earns for playing months of domestic cricket and what the non-first class player gets for playing just about 16 days of IPL cricket.

The huge anomaly between the earnings has to be narrowed down so that the players who play in India’s premier domestic event, the Ranji Trophy do not feel like orphans. The uncapped player be it from India or overseas cannot be getting many times more than what the Ranji player gets. With jobs drying up, the Ranji player must get paid handsomely so that he isn’t lost to the game. The BCCI can thus decide on a cap for the non-international which will also help the franchise lower its costs.

The franchises can also save loads of money if they look at having more Indians in their support staff. By all means have an overseas coach if there is no suitable Indian candidate, but why not have an Indian as the assistant coach since he will have more of an idea about local Indian players and so help the overseas coach. This way the franchises are also helping groom Indian coaches who can learn a thing or two under the overseas coach and thus benefit Indian cricket in the long run.

The BCCI would do well to encourage subtly the franchises to have more of an Indian support staff. After all, it is the Indian Premier League, isn’t it? Look around at the Big Bash or the Ram Slam and see if there are any foreign coaches there. If India has been the number one team in the past surely it’s because its players were not just skilled players but good thinkers on the game, so why aren’t more Indians tried out as coaches there while we give recently-retired overseas cricketers their first opportunity to be coaches in the Indian Premier League.

The Indian Premier League is one of the most recognised sporting brands in the world. It is the biggest and best cricketing league in the world. In the 70th year of India’s independence let us also celebrate the league and be proud that we have a tournament which is the envy of the rest of the cricketing world.