Friday, March 28, 2008

Why the IPL is potentially more harmful to International Cricket than the ICL

There have been many misconceptions being floated around mainly by the IPL and ICC themselves in order to establish the IPL's supremacy over the ICL. They have tried hard to show that the ICL can only cause harm to International Cricket without giving any solid support to their arguments, while in fact, it can probably be proved that the situation is the other way round. First of all, the ICC has been giving their diplomatic non-sense on how the IPL will follow Anti-Corruption and Anti-Doping regulations which, according to them, gives the League its legitimacy. In reality, only ICC events such as the World Cup and Champions Trophy have anti-doping regulations. If going by the ICC's own reasoning, this means that most of Test Cricket and ODIs should be considered unofficial.

The IPL considers the ICL to be a money-making venture that does not have what is best for cricket at heart. While it is true that the ICL is a concept designed to generate money, it can, however, still be considered a somewhat controlled institution when compared to the IPL. Since there is single ownership for the ICL, regulations can be made that would support the players, teams and International Boards at the same time. However, the IPL franchise structure gives the individual IPL Teams more freedom and authority. This would eventually give the individual franchises the final say on matters pertaining to teams and players.

A more interesting analogy of the differences between the ICL and IPL would be of the ideological streams of Socialism and Capitalism. Since the ICL has a more state-governed approach, it will ensure that all stakeholders are appropriately taken care of. This structure can be loosely said to follow a derived form of the Socialist approach. The IPL has given ownership to individual entities thus allowing a more Capitalist approach, where every franchise would eventually only seek to make the highest amount of money, whether that would be by winning matches or by having the most marketable team of players. The problem with this is that profit will always be considered more important than player rights or International priorities.

A perfect example of this is how the New Zealand Cricket Board has allowed 5 players to skip the practice games of the England tour so that they can play in the IPL instead. The official verdict is that the New Zealand players will be playing "high standard of cricket for 2 weeks" and that will give them "a good level of preparation" for the tour. It is quite embarrassing to see an official board member issuing such statements. The conditions in which the players will be playing in India would be a complete contrast to what is expected in England. It would be better for them to play domestic cricket at home than to go and play in the IPL to get any level of preparation.

The ICL on the other hand made it clear from the start that International duties and prior commitments would be given first priority. They even ensured that players would be given their contracted fees even if they were injured or absent as a result of International commitments. Also, the teams were constructed in such a manner that overseas players were divided equally so that the matches were competitive in nature. The need for a separate window for the ICL would never had arisen even if it had been the sole 20-20 league in India.

But in the end, the money will do all the talking. And since the BCCI has tonnes of it in its coffers, cricket is bound to lose.