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‘The end game has begun for international cricket’

Published Jun 14, 2012 10:25pm


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-Photo by AFP

Read the signs. The West Indies players in individual capacity at the IPL ruled the format. Try to gather them under the West Indies flag and you get a flat, anaemic unit — as if forced to take the field.

In fact, as a national team they are so unenthusiastic about playing their favourite T20 format that they are languishing below Ireland in the ICC rankings. Kevin Pietersen, arguably the best entertainer in the game and a great advertiser for the shorter format, has chosen to retire from it, not bothering about the responsibility that he carries as an iconic player towards the international circuit. It’s like Roger Federer withdrawing from the Grand Slams to play exhibition matches only!

A sound source also confirms that around 30 Pakistani players have been signed up to play the SPL (Sri Lanka Premier League).

If given the choice, and I can confirm as the views have been shared with me, most would only play the League circuit where they feel wanted and are better valued. In fact, you are given to believe that most players around the world are treating their selection for international matches as a springboard to land up in the lap of a franchisee!

The intense expression on the faces of top Indian players to perform at the IPL games is another strong signal that either the guys care more about franchise cricket or find the competition more exciting than the tedious grind of international cricket.

The international cricket management hit a new low when the Sri Lankan players were forced to play on an empty stomach for almost eight months while being on national duty. Naturally, their performance and morale took a beating! Just look at the results of the team during the period they were not paid: Sri Lanka lost to Australia at home, were beaten by Pakistan in Tests, ODIs and T20 and taken down by South Africa. The entire critical run was witnessed by the managers of the game who didn't care to fix the situation. The Lankans were allowed to slither downhill quite happily!

Ravindra Jadeja is a clear case of how inconsequential international cricket has become. The all-rounder is yet to play a Test match — the ultimate level for judging a player’s calibre — but got picked for US$2 million at the IPL auction. The market forces are reading the value of a player based on a different scale, and international cricket is not the benchmark any more.

The lack of expression from the players when it comes to international cricket is understandable. It stems from flawed governance and skewed distribution of resources. The selection inconsistencies and low income sharing of the produce with the players, who have significantly contributed towards it, makes it a fractious environment.

Add to it a tired international calendar that pits strong against the weak, Asia v Asia, dwindling cash receipts at the counter, and you get a perfect storm! The errors in the system are now getting magnified because it has a competitor in the shape of franchises.

It is not a compact surrounding, but still streets ahead of how assets should be handled. Players have peace of mind and pockets full of goodies.

The cricket boards all over have to come up with a healthy plan that breeds nationalism and takes care of the material needs of the players to offset the lure and charm of the ‘League bling’.

I think they are already late in this exercise since the players, after being exposed to good management and opportunities, are charged up to retaliate against what they believe has been a dictatorial set-up where they have  been engaged in a master-slave relationship.

And their trust in franchise model is not for money alone. It is about recognition also, best against the best that inspires them to be a rebel.

With meaningless international contests taking shape in front of empty stands and formats being allowed to eat into each others territories, it is building up towards a fantastic recipe for disaster!


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Comments (51) Closed

Salman Jun 15, 2012 12:35pm
Honestly I think it's an opportunity for the ICC to completely change the way the game is run. The IPL is a good thing for it has increased the standard of cricket and improved the lives of cricketers. I really do think these leagues like the IPL/BPL etc. should be given more importance now. It generates a lot more interest in the game and frankly, seems way more profitable for the respective boards. I guess one day cricket will soon die out, with the audience slowly losing interest in it, I'm sure the advertisers will soon follow, leaving the ICC with no choice but to scrap the format.
Jawwad Jun 15, 2012 03:35pm
Wasim didn't say it was more special he said winning with Kolkatta is a "different" feeling than he had winning the WC with Pakistan.
haris Jun 15, 2012 04:07pm
International Cricket is declining because ICC is not powerful enough to regulate it well. The body is always found under the influence of powerful cricketing nation mainly Australia, India and England. ICC should learn from FIFA and stamp their importance as FIFA did. By the way, establishing local league system in each country is surely a profitable business for all. It allows young people, an opportunity to establish themselves as Professional Cricketer. It would be good for the 'Cricket' as a game itself. By organizing a proper League setup, the nation could boost their economic revenues. Oh! Really? Yes, let’s take an example of Turkey. Turkish Football League generates Millions of Euros in revenues each year. The infrastructure is getting better and better and International superstars are also joining their League. The Fan Club is expanding within and outside of the country. The players are also playing as professionals and their dedication is similar to what an employee offer in his/her company. Why? because the players’ earning comes each month in form of Salary. If same applies to Cricket then I am sure the most beneficiaries would surely be the local lads. They could choose Cricket as a profession and could earn good amount of money. Now look at Football as a Sport. Only 3 events (World Cup, Continental Championship and Olympics) take place (with a gap of 4 years in each) in which International teams match-up against each other. Despite, rare clash of nations at international level, every year FIFA gains more and more profit. During the year, players play in local league and fight hard to get a place in their respective national squad before start of the tournament. Enthusiasm among the Fans and Followers always going higher and more and more people are interested. A League in any Sport is considered as an industry where players, management, media and security personnel are employees. The revenue it generates would surely benefited the economy, up root the real talents and up bring competiveness among individual player.
rohan Jun 15, 2012 08:48am
Agreed !!
Vishnu Dutta Jun 15, 2012 09:04am
IPL is here is stay. it is incorrect to say that it will kill the international cricket. it will infact kill other premier leagues and will be always second to intl cricket. IPL will definitely change the way world looks at the international cricket. int'l cricket will have to make a room for it and both have enough space to survive. there isnt just enough room for other leagues. IPL will make career in the cricket more lucrative and it will infact draw more and more people towards cricket.
maxwood Jun 15, 2012 10:29am
Imran Khan told these things way back
Amir Jun 15, 2012 09:16am
important issue, but if Football is an analogy loosely, then yes, only multination tournament will survive (World Cup Asia Cup etc) in a club cricket world, it depend on several other factors if it is good or bad for a country, but still big series can be charm Aus-Eng, Pak-India etc
MSaif Jun 15, 2012 11:03am
Excellent article. Boards fill there own pockets and leave bone for players. I say it clearly...A decade from now f ranchise cricket will rule over ICC international cricket....
Ashutosh Jun 16, 2012 12:11am
West Indies is not a nation. Players playing in the team are from different countries. It is like a manufactured team like ASIA Eleven, World ELEVEN etc. No wonder players are not enthusiastic about playing for west indies.
haris Jun 17, 2012 11:37am
The intensity of Cricketing fixtures at league-level could replace the international fixtures like Ashes and Indo-Pak series. Imagine in Pakistan, how intensified would it be when Lahore Club plays against Karachi Club? Or Peshawar against Sialkot? Don't take me wrong, I only wanted to say that please don't consider Sports as a sort of entertainment only. It is much more than that. It could be thriving Industry in which Entertainment and Fun comes along with a hefty income. And one more thing, T20 should not be adopted in the Leagues. I would like 'Limited overs one days' and Test to be adopted instead.
Haq Parast Jun 15, 2012 10:00pm
Very well written.
Aqil Siddiqi Jun 15, 2012 08:17pm
IPL is not a real cricket. end of argument. When technique and patience is not there, how can you compare T20 to cricket. Having said that, at end of the day, we all are in the bussiness to make some money, and if IPL gives this opportunity, I don't blame players to play T20 instead of for his country.
Aman Jun 15, 2012 08:09pm
I believe you haven't been keeping up with times...
Khan Jun 15, 2012 07:41pm
How many exclamation marks are there in this article?
Tareen Jun 15, 2012 07:13pm
Ramiz Raja likes exclamation marks a little much..sound argument though...
Kalyan Jun 15, 2012 06:20pm
If I was offered $2million to play for a Franchise or $200,000 to play for the country, I too would choose the Franchise. So we need to make it so that it is not Franchise OR country but franchise AND country. One way would be to limit salary caps of players who have not represented the country in tests. I am however interested in the revenue model of the Franchises and why that cannot be replicated at the country level.
Abhay Jun 15, 2012 06:18pm
As an Indian I do not wish to see INDIA playing with Pakistan again. Post 26/11 I feel sad and pray to god that Both countries should not have any relations including cricketing ties.
@SohailAzmie Jun 15, 2012 06:10pm
Good article . . . league cricket needs to be restricted/banned . . . the signs are clear! However, boards should raise pays of players too.
Ahmed Jun 15, 2012 05:30pm
what's soccer? i believe a game played with the foot is called football
Fatima Jun 15, 2012 04:25pm
But dude, these sports are not comparable. Soccer internationals are not played as series against other countries. They are always international tournaments like worldcup, euro, asia cup...when have you heard england playing France a 3 match series ? format is totally different. Article is absolutely correct.
Aisha Jun 15, 2012 11:50am
why football leagues couldn't over come the charm of football
Asim Jun 15, 2012 11:44am
good article
Haris Jun 15, 2012 01:04pm
No league can match the intensity of international fixtures... for players and ex-players (as officials) there is plenty of green in IPL (or any other league) but it can never come close to the quality of Ashes or a Pak-India series. I say pump more money in international cricket and restrict leagues cricket!
zeeshan waris Jun 15, 2012 10:05am
its too early to predict!
BRR Jun 15, 2012 02:33pm
Rather a common view point, but not quite accurate. The IPL and others like it provide great entertainment for the crowds and good income for the players. Nothing wrong with that. International cricket is all about national pride, which should be fine too, and should be accommodated. UEFA football in Europe currently providing fantastic matches between International teams gives way to UEFA Champions league, etc. for matches between top teams from the various leagues. It is a win-win situation, and the same can happen to cricket, provided both are given room t grow and schedule to co-exist. Otherwise, it becomes dog-eat-dog and free-for-all, like it is now.
RDD Jun 15, 2012 02:04pm
icc should make international cric for 6 months affairs n these kind of leagues(IPL, big bash etc) 6 months affairs
Talat Ali Jun 17, 2012 08:16am
This is a fantastic obsevation and a wake up call for all cricketing nations. To call the League matches as a franchise is well said. The real matches are between nations. Good article.
Jahanzeb Jun 17, 2012 02:50pm
Pointless article. England Australia south Africa haven't experienced lack of calibre or enthusiasm. India largely benefited by identifying good talent. Why can't we replicate a similar model in Pakistan on a domestic level and identify fresh talent instead of having sub par players like hafeez leading the side. Funding is not expected to be an issue and getting coverage will be easier given our media setup. West indies cricket has been in decline since 1996, IPL underscores their individual talent and exposes structural problem in their board / cricket infrastructure. International cricket may experience less interest in Pakistan due to lack of trust in the team.
syed Jun 17, 2012 10:23pm
Yes I agree the shorter format 20/20 has more commercial appeal as against traditional matches. When it comes to marketing Cricket Boards all around the world are lacking and their business model is out dated. For players it is their bread and butter, obviously economic considerations are very important.
Johar Jun 17, 2012 09:22pm
A number of people did nto even understood the article.
Ahmed Jun 17, 2012 08:06pm
He never said IPL is bad. He is only saying that players are taking IPL and now SPL more seriously because of weakness in international cricket. And by the way, Ramiz did not say it, but I think IPL is basically end of quality cricket because IPL is not cricket !!! There is little doubt that Indian cricket his slided phenomenally in test cricket since IPL got hold of India !
harun Jun 17, 2012 04:50pm
Some hard facts were made out,this situation is best reflected in the Windies.The Lankan Board has inflicted humiliation on itself by allowing its players to go unpaid for months.No remorse. The Big guns slugged it out and made there bread while the lesser ones slept hungry.Shame.What national pride.The Lankan players were warned against protest ,lest the dont get the NOC. As to Jadeja it was Dhoni who got the CSK to pay Jadeja that much money.Ask Sreenivasan he will be fuming.He can afford to pay for his Skippers whims and fancies. Very soon we will have guys who will be available for League cricket and nothing else.
vick Jun 17, 2012 10:15am
Rameez did not say that after first IPL when Pakistani players were playing. IPL is bad for Cricket only when Pakistanis are not playing in it, what rubbish
Mohsin Jun 15, 2012 12:22pm
Dear Ramiz Excellent article. This can also be witnessed by the comments from the greats like Wasim, Donald, Shane warne etc in IPL gives clear indication that franchise and dollars come before country as Wasim Akram said "i played and won the WC for pakistan but winning of knight riders is more special than that". Donald said" Ashok Dinda remind me of ma bowling". Just check it and then compare yourself that is there any comparision exist between Donald and Dinda. Rubbish
truth bites Jun 15, 2012 11:18am
Cricket is following football! Todays football clubs are more famous and have more money than national teams. Money and Media are the big players in this great game! But leagues around the world wil create good and cricketers!
Cricketer Jun 15, 2012 08:30am
Sahee Baat
@iRaViN6 Jun 15, 2012 07:45am
Lankan board dont have money to pay to their national team, at best they can start but how they gonna sustain the league.
Bilal Jun 15, 2012 09:17am
agreed ! the start of IPL is end of cricket, once great men's game
thames Fisher Jun 15, 2012 09:42am
I hope Big boys of ICC will read and think why it's like this
Wasim Jun 17, 2012 11:12am
Ramiz, I like your article and fully agree with it but then why are your there doing commentary in IPL and other leagues, the only reason is money and same with the players should set your self as an example
Mohsin Jun 16, 2012 05:11am
"different & special"
Mohsin Jun 16, 2012 05:17am
Nice1 Haris. But the problem with the cricketing nations is the amount of money they are getting from the boards comparing to the money they got from leagues has a vast difference between them. This is not the case in the other sporting events like football. Thats why cricketers prefer to play in the leagues keeping the country's pride aside. As this is very clear from Indian international side that how they are humiliated in the away test series against Aussies and England
SKL Jun 16, 2012 07:25am
Well that's where Cricket is going to be in few years. Bilateral ODI series are boring and irrelevant. Like football, International cricket should be played only in multinational ICC fixtures (ODI world cup, T-20 world cup, Asia cup and may be some regional 4 nations trophies for African and Eng-NZ-Aus-Ireland. T-20 club cricket is here to stay. End of the story.
Muhammad Kashif Jun 16, 2012 08:03am
I think (twenty twenty) Cricket premier league system is not enemy of One day and test cricket because this is for the first time in the history of cricket when a new format has highlighted the threats and weaknesses to one day and test cricket on an overall basis from board governance, management system to investment and revenues of the game are all struggling for its stable and long term form and attraction for the fans in these two formats are diminishing as compared to premier league which quickly pays off your investment in terms of time, money and energy, but it will not be justifying to promote the growth of one day and test cricket at the cost of premier league rather it will be against the spirit of innovation and creativity which is at the heart of every field from sports to space industry and from cinema to psychometric testing every industry is enriching with innovation and change and showing new dimensions and commitment of learning growth and development in the twenty first century which is exactly the requirement of knowledge economy and endorses the globalization process. On the other hand, I think time has come to save the one day and test cricket formats with new strategy and tactics, otherwise fast growing premier league attractions won't left any margin of hope and then only T10 (ten, ten) will be the new rival of twenty twenty.
Shri Jun 16, 2012 08:08pm
I find amusing his claim "The cricket boards all over have to come up with a healthy plan that breeds nationalism and takes care of the material needs of the players to offset the lure and charm of the ‘League bling’." It is not Cricket Boards responsibility to breed nationalism. Just an attempt to discredit IPL as it is by and large an Indian show and Pakistani players are not playing in it.
Baba Sidni Jun 17, 2012 12:11am
When I went to the states, for the first time, I was also had a problem of names like this, a game played by foot is called football? but now I know better, football is an English word, and they got the first right to name this word to any game they like. They usually call football to a game which does not involve much handling of the ball by foot, and for the game, you referred, they call it soccer. But we don't have any right to argue.
Baba Sidni Jun 17, 2012 12:21am
Great thinking. IPL is not a real cricket, and hockey is not a real cricket as well, so goes the argument for "gulli danda". Let the people, who enjoy these games enjoy, who are we to criticize them as long as they are not breaking any law. And for the opportunity, if a country doesn't make me a president, then I can take any other profession I find to make money. Nothing wrong with that.
Baba Sidni Jun 17, 2012 12:27am
Greats like Wasim, Donald and Shane Warne. Waseem Akram of dubious fame, for whom I don' want to write as it has not been properly verified. I might be sued you know. Shane Warne of Liz Hurley, who famously said about the banned drugs, that they were unintentionally packed by her mother, and Donald ? I got no idea, who is he?
Ahsan Jun 18, 2012 04:35am
Totally agreed. IPL is based on T20 format which is street cricket only. It is giving fame to those you are not capable players. In this format player like dravid , laxman, kallis are not heroes. This format forcing good batman to use unorthodox techniques to accelerate run rate which spoil their game over the period of time. It is obvious that amount of money involved in that will lure anyone to be more focus on franchise game rather than international cricket. However I also brought good talent in the lime light which is good for Indian cricket. I think the key issue is that it will spoil the game of new generation as youngsters will now want to be hard hitter rather than Tendulkar or Gavaskar.
ikhan01 Jun 18, 2012 03:43pm
Rameez has written his observation from his own first hand experience. His article is very well written. I think, the article is leting us know that, the nature of cricket is changing with the introduction of Leagues(Franchises) all over the world. IPL is the most expensive and very well organised League which attracted a lot of Big names from all over the cricketing world. The article says that T20 league(s) have made watching cricket into a Very exciting event. All other formats look ancient compared to T20 games. Once again, IPL being the most expensive amongst all other Leagues which has created a new standard in T20 format. We will see players opting to prefer to play in this format vs Internationally. We already have a few big names re.
Shaby Jun 20, 2012 08:25am
Format is different thing but organisation working is different. By the way all clubs games are played under FIFA regulalation. But reality is games always reflect nation's health. Healthy nations always participated in many different games, especially athletic ones. But in Pakistan we always support cricket which is not very much popular among healthy games and the worst thing is in cricket where our players need to show bit of athletic part is fielding where we never be good. Always like to bat or ball that a sign of healthy nation. Hockey and squash are the games which we destroyed very badly.