By Jamie Innes, 16
With the cricket season underway in England and the IPL coming to a close this month, I wanted to look at the effects of franchise cricket, such as the Indian Premier League or the Big Bash League in Australia, on the more traditional formats of the game. The financial incentives for these tournaments are massive, the IPL being valued at $5.3 billion dollars in 2017. With the best players getting salaries of more than $2 million without factoring in lucrative sponsorship deals, you can understand why players are flocking to these tournaments. Cricket boards profit massively from the sponsorship and broadcasting deals so are happy to create the tournaments and fans benefit from a short, exciting match played by the worlds best. But this poses a problem for more traditional formats of cricket, especially test matches.
National teams used to be able to rely on the fact that players would choose the prestige of a test match cap over playing in the short format matches; however, more and more players are turning down the opportunity to represent their country in favour of playing in franchise tournaments. It’s easy to vilify these players, like Chris Gayle and David Willey, but considering the relatively short career of a professional sportsman, it would seem crazy to turn down the opportunity to capitalise on the opportunity. It can be argued that cricket boards have not done enough to keep test matches more relevant in the day of instant gratification, where audiences are becoming more used to a same-day result.
The ICC faces a tough problem as these T20 tournaments are incredibly entertaining, especially for a younger audience with a shorter attention-span. However, in stimulating the growth of these tournaments they risk the death of test cricket completely. Eoin Morgan, the England short format captain, has argued that not enough has been done and that it may be too late to solve the problem.