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Thursday March 26 2009

I have been following the cricket regularly on Cricinfo during the last few months and years.  Latest news: NZ doing well against India.  But this story is something else again, cricket-history-wise.

Basically, what it’s about is a bunch of “greedy” West Indian cricketers threatening to play for the IPL (the Indian run 20/20 tournament which will shortly be held in South Africa, between teams named after Indian cities (not in India because of security concerns)), rather than play test cricket against England, in England, for the West Indies.  The bottom line here is that Indian cricket fans (there are more of them than there are people in Europe) prefer to watch 20/20 on their TVs rather than boring old test matches between countries they don’t care about.  Therefore the money Windian players get from playing IPL dwarfs what they can now get for test cricket.  So, they are willing to kiss test cricket goodbye.  The West Indian bosses either can’t or won’t match the IPL’s offers.  My guess is, the Windian bosses believe that their willingness to select people as test cricketers is still the axiomatic fact of all this, while the players don’t.

If this is what the players think, I think that they are right, and that their opponents in this matter are wrong.  Players are already going straight from non-Indian provincial cricket to the IPL, and there will soon be many IPL stars who have turned their backs on test cricket.  Not that they won’t ever play test cricket, you understand.  It is merely that they will be willing not to.  You want me to play for England, do you?  Okay mate, make me an offer.

How soon before Kevin Pietersen decides that playing for England counts for less (and gets him less money) - when asked to play, for instance, against an IPL weakened Windy team - than playing for the Bangalore Royal Challengers?

Call it the Manchester Uniting of cricket.

UPDATE: More cricket globalisation.

Cricket has long been a professional sport with the structure of an amateur sport. One consequence of this is that there have been no transfers between teams, because to play for a team you have to be a national of the country that team represents, and once you play for one team you are even less eligible to play for others than you were before.

This means that some test players from the weaker test cricket playing nations will be of a standard below players from the stronger nations who cannot get a game. The hundred or so “current test players” in the world will very definitely not be the hundred best players in the world. In addition, if the best player in the world comes from one of the poorer test nations, he will be paid very much less than will lesser players from the richer nations, and than he would be if he came from a stronger nation.

This has allowed cricketers to be underpaid in general (there is nowhere to go) and is one reason why cricket has been particularly prone to corruption. (Bribe takers have tended to come from places where the quality of cricket is strong but the money is less good).

The West Indies are a side from places that are poor but which still produces at least some world class players. This was completely predictable. And if the IPL generally does feature the best hundred players in the world, this is a good thing. If cricket gains the structure of a professional sport (ie club based, players are paid the market rate etc) I can’t but help think it is a good thing. One good thing is that if cricket players are paid Manchester United like salaries, there will be much less corruption.

I love test cricket, but something like this was inevitable.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 26 March 2009

Not a huge follower of cricket, but you’ve got to do a bit of following if you’re living here. I am looking forward to the IPL though, including the opening ceremnoy on the 18th, which is widely predicted (haven’t seen confirmation yet though) to be literally just down the road at Newlands.
I will definitely go along and watch some of the games - I want to be able to tell my kids and grandkids that I saw some of the greats play, be it football, rugby, cricket, whatever.

Great year for SA sport: Aussie Tour, IPL, Confederations Cup, Lions Tour, England Tour, Champions Trophy, plus the usual Super 14, Tri-Nations, all the domestic stuff and some other bits which I forget. Wow.

No plans for 2010 yet though. No… wait…

Posted by 6000 on 27 March 2009

After that opening ceremony, you have Shane Warne captaining the Rajasthan Royals in the first game of the tournament. I wouldn’t want to miss that.

It may be that in a few decades, being the dominant player and captain of the first couple of seasons of the IPL is what Warne will be remembered for, as much as anything.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 27 March 2009

I’d also throw in the recent collapse of Mr Stanford’s involvement in WI cricket. When you hear where some of his money was going (e.g. medical treatment for players’ families etc) and what therefore were the consequences of that money disappearing, it’s hard not to have every sympathy for any WI cricketer going for every penny they can get whilst they can.

Posted by James Hamilton on 28 March 2009

James

I’m sure you’re right about the Stanford angle.  It’s one thing to say no to money in the future.  Quite another to say yes, you and your family getting organised around it, starting to buy stuff etc., and then being told no, and THEN being told, well HERE’s some money.  You’d grab it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait on 28 March 2009

IPL is good for cricket because it brings all world together.

Posted by Online cricket updates on 09 April 2009

Hi,
While I understand fully the concerns of the organizers over the security standpoint, I wonder if they would be similarly worried if there were no Brendon McCullums and Kevin Pietersons coming over but merely a few Singhs and a couple of Dhawans? Forget shifting the Ranji or Duleep trophies out of India; is anyone even hiring a couple of policemen to protect the domestic players?
Live cricket scores

Posted by Live cricket scores on 17 April 2009
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