Cricket's Indian revolution: fast play and more pay
The Indian Premier League is altering the game and pulling in the best players from around the world.
(Page 2 of 2)
But it's not merely the truncation or the bling that has the traditionalists worried. Twenty20 is fundamentally altering the economics of the game.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The IPL paid its top players more for six weeks' work (up to $1.5 million) than some players make in a career. This has caused deep anxiety in England and elsewhere. Several players have already walked out on their national teams to seek a fortune on the subcontinent and have been banned.
One who did so, New Zealand's Shane Bond, said in a recent interview that the ban was "unfair" but would not change his decision. "I'd have to play for years for New Zealand to earn the same amount of money – and play in every game," he told the Guardian. "So the decision to go to India is a no-brainer."
"If you work for a bank and an American bank offers you four times the salary for a quarter of the work why wouldn't you want to do it?" asks Mr. Thacker.
To persuade players not to head to India, the English authorities are now scrambling to provide alternative lucrative tournaments closer to home.
Mr. Stanford has said that has said he is ready to bankroll international Twenty20 games involving England in which the winning side will take home $20 million.
But that will only be for the elite players. For the rest, a revamped domestic competition is in the cards, though it seems certain that this will not come close to rivaling the IPL. English cricket chief Giles Clarke hinted at a conservative approach last week when he said: "Tradition and history rather than Bollywood stars and glitz are the binding which persuade supporters to return week in, week out to our grounds."
For many players, the temptation to take up Indian offers may prove too alluring. A survey by the professional body, the Players Cricket Association, found that almost a fifth of English players are prepared to face a ban at home for the chance to make big money in India.
England fast bowler Sajid Mahmood told the BBC this week: "A lot of people on the circuit are saying the IPL is the way forward. My aim is and always has been to play for England, but if you're not getting in the side, the IPL is a big carrot."
Paul Allott, a former England international, says there is a distinct possibility that some players might prefer the financial inducement of Twenty20 cricket to the less lucrative traditional game. But he doesn't see the five-day international game being totally eclipsed any time soon. "The current crop of top players are still more interested in seeing how well they can do in the long form of the game," Mr. Allott says.
Cricket last went through similar convulsions 30 years ago when the Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer set up a break-away tournament that introduced shorter games (though not as short as Twenty20) and enticed the very best in the game. On that occasion, the experiment ended in rapprochement. But most of its innovations – colored clothing, floodlit evening matches, white balls, punishing schedules, lucrative merchandising – have remained.
In a way, the Twenty20 revolution is merely completing what Mr. Packer started.