Australian cricket March 2, 2009

Aussies fear for primacy of baggy green


Shane Watson hopes international cricket will remain the priority for Australian players © Getty Images
 
The impact of Twenty20 cricket is being acutely felt in Australia. A survey conducted by the Australian Cricketers' Association has found the majority of centrally contracted players are not convinced that representing Australia will be the pinnacle of their sport in a decade's time.

A surprising 20 percent of Cricket Australia's 25-man contract list said that the baggy green cap would not be Australian cricket's ultimate accolade in ten years, while another 33 percent were unsure. Additionally, 47 percent of Australia's elite cricketers rated "balancing playing for your country and competing in the new T20 competitions" as the most urgent issue facing world cricket.

That topic came comfortably ahead of "volume of cricket for your country" (33 percent), "playing conditions" (13 percent) and "ICC governance" (7 percent). Sixty percent also said they would have consciously tailored their games "to the demands of Twenty20 to take advantage of future earning potential", were they still at the beginning of their careers.

The survey results appear to confirm what has long been touted: the financial rewards of the twenty-over game will, for many players, prove more enticing than the prospect of national selection. But Shane Watson, the Australia and Rajasthan allrounder who was voted the most valuable player of the inaugural IPL tournament, remains hopeful that future generations will still view Australian selection as the pinnacle of their careers.

"The way I see it, the only little threat as it stands is for legends of world cricket maybe retiring a little bit earlier than they otherwise would have to take full advantage of the financial rewards of the IPL," Watson said. "I don't think you will see young players leaving Australia to pursue IPL careers on a full-time basis. For me, the dream has always been to play for Australia, and I would hope that would be the same for the next generation of players."

John Buchanan, the former Australia and current Kolkata coach, believes the IPL has already changed the face of cricket forever. "I joined the IPL in 2008 because I believe it has the capacity to change cricket, more so than any other single event in cricket's history," he told Cricinfo. "Potentially more so than the advent of Kerry Packer with World Series Cricket, more so than Bodyline, and more so than Bradman or WG Grace. I believe cricket needs change, and I want to help IPL achieve that change."

Click here to read the ACA player survey in full.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo