Indian players have returned to international action after a hiatus of over two months due to their participation in the Indian Premier League (IPL). However, Australian captain Pat Cummins has voiced his concern over the influence of the IPL on players’ schedules, describing it as having a “monopoly” over their time.
Cummins acknowledged that the impact of the IPL on players’ decisions has been evident for some time, citing Trent Boult’s choice to forego a New Zealand central contract in favor of participating in lucrative T20 leagues worldwide, influenced by the IPL’s transformative effect on the game over the past decade.
He stated, “International cricket doesn’t have a monopoly on players’ time, like it did in the past. The IPL changed that a decade ago, but there’s just going to be more and more content that creeps in, so I think we’ve got to be proactive about that.”
While Cummins emphasized the significance of national duty, he acknowledged the challenge in prioritizing it over the cash-rich franchise-based leagues prevalent in today’s cricketing landscape.
“We have to keep making playing for Australia as special as we can, keeping a high performance to get every single player wanting to play for Australia as much as we can. That’s going to be the challenge. I think it’s upon us now, and we’ve got to start thinking about that quite deeply. I think fast-forward a few years’ time, a 12-month international calendar might look a little bit different,” expressed the Australian skipper, who has previously played for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) and Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
I don’t think you can blame players – Cummins
Cummins drew parallels between cricket and football, predicting a future where national teams would require clearances from franchises for players to represent their country. He suggested that players opting for franchise opportunities should not be blamed, stating, “When you’re talking about some of the opportunities that may be provided through the franchises, I don’t think you can blame players that might take that option.”
He added, “I see the day where that (a franchise release) happens. I think it’s reality. You’ve seen it in other sports. So again, we’ve got to keep selling why playing for Australia is so special. And making sure there is some flexibility to try and get the best out of these guys.”
Cummins concluded by highlighting the increasing competition for players’ time and the evolving nature of the game. He noted the parallels with the football model, where players are employed by their clubs and released to play for their country, envisioning a similar framework for cricket.
As cricket continues to evolve, with franchise-based leagues gaining prominence and competing interests emerging, the challenge for cricket boards and teams lies in preserving the significance of representing one’s country while accommodating the demands and opportunities presented by leagues such as the IPL.