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Be ready for global T20 onslaught

S Kannan
S KannanMay 14, 2017 | 13:00

Be ready for global T20 onslaught

The Indian Premier League (IPL) fever is at its peak. Even teams which are out of the running for the playoffs have been going full throttle. At this time of the year, the heat wave is killing in India. In the Capital, to even walk a few hundred metres in the afternoon heat is a challenge. Yet, the cricketers have no problem competing in a match at 4pm or 8pm.

Forget the quality of cricket — fours, sixes and razor sharp bowling in the death, as Zaheer Khan showed against the Rising side from Pune. For sheer fitness and being able to take the conditions in their stride, players in the IPL have shown how strong they are.

A decade ago, to have thought that cricket of this nature would be played in such conditions would have been laughed at. To be sure, it was the Independence Cup of 1997 in Chennai, played in murderous humidity, which showed players were getting tougher like true professionals in any other sport.

Shortly after the IPL, India will be competing in the Champions Trophy. Kapil Dev has said India can retain the trophy if they play to form. The hype over India versus Pakistan, the first match for us, is bound to generate heat. The change from T20 to the 50-over format will be interesting to watch. Virat Kohli needs to rediscover his form and the same applies for a few more Indians who will be in England.

t20_051417121456.jpgPhoto: Indiatoday.in

Yet, the real challenge ahead is a profusion of T20 leagues which the world of cricket needs to worry about. The Big Bash league in Australia has been on for a few years. Bangladesh has its own short format league and the one in Sri Lanka did not take off.

Till now, the Indians have not been competing in these leagues as they have not got permission from the Indian cricket board. The dynamics could be changing soon. With England being given a bigger window for their own T20 league from the summer of 2018, there will be overseas players competing in it.

The same goes for the new league to be launched in South Africa. Haroon Lorgat has already made it clear that he would like to see Indians competing in it. It can be read in another context — if India does not release their players for the league in SA, don’t expect the Proteas to come here.

To be sure, the profusion of T20 leagues is opening up new vistas for the T20 specialists. Till now, we have only seen T20 specialists from the West Indies come and play in various leagues around the world. The situation will change fast and the T20 market could be like football, where players compete in various leagues in Europe.

Romantic relics like you and me can talk about Test cricket being the ultimate thing. But one cannot forget the changing face of world cricket. T20 cricket is market driven and the spectators are happy with instant cricket as in less than four hours a match gets over. In the IPL, there are two matches on some days and the average fan - inside the ground or watching it on television - is happy to watch it.

The problem is if almost 24 weeks of T20 cricket is going to be played in league around the world, what happens to Test cricket and the ODIs. You cannot have a scenario where Virat Kohli is competing in a plethora of T20 leagues around the world.

India needs him as a Test player and captain first and the rest can follow. The way he has struggled with form in recent months can be treated as an aberration but the same can happen to players from other countries as well. Australia has already cautioned its players they need to take a long contract at home and give the IPL a miss.

Reality could be different as players like David Warner and a few more Aussies love this format and India. They could well say the IPL means more to them.

Without sounding voyeuristic, the situation looks as scary as the time when Kerry Packer's World Series pyjama cricket threatened world cricket. “Playing for the country” is a big deal but none can stop cricketers from competing in T20 leagues. The Indian cricket board also needs to address this issue.

After all, the T20 league in South Africa is going to be held most likely this November-December. And that would be the first class season in India. There is a strong possibility T20 specialists from across the world can soon ply their trade in more countries. Time will tell whether it’s good or bad for cricket! 

(Courtesy: Mail Today)

Last updated: May 14, 2017 | 13:00
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