March 28, 2010

Twenty20 shouldn't be played between countries

The international schedule is under pressure from the shortest format. The way forward is a dedicated season for Twenty20, which should use a franchise model to grow the game across the world

The IPL's announcement that it will expand by two teams next season could force the ICC to confront an issue it has so far sidestepped - that of a wide-ranging vision for the game's future. While the IPL insists the expansion won't result in a longer tournament, it's abundantly clear that the rise and rise of Twenty20 cricket has already put the squeeze on scheduling. Now is the time to rationalise cricket's various itineraries and decide what role each version has in the game's future.

One way to clarify this situation would be to scrap country-versus-country Twenty20 contests and make the highest level of competition a battle between cities. This way a Twenty20 season could evolve, with the champions of each domestic league playing off to decide the best side. To start with, the ideal windows for these tournaments would be in March-April and September-October. Eventually a World Series could be held, pitting the IPL champions against the winner of the domestic-teams competition in a best-of-three play-off series.

The way to globalise cricket is via Twenty20 and the most effective method of achieving this would be to employ a franchise system, especially in the non-traditional cricket regions. The big question is: what form should these franchises take?

One lucrative income stream has already bypassed the ICC. The IPL franchises are run by Indian entrepreneurs and the substantial money returned to cricket benefits the BCCI. The ICC would only jettison the current World Twenty20 if it could replace the income it receives from this competition. Therefore it needs to ensure that any franchise system it devises results in a reasonable percentage of the money being ploughed back into the development of the game. This means coming up with a formula that involves cricket administrators working with entrepreneurial businessmen. It will be a difficult balance to strike, asking conservative officials to form a harmonious relationship with strident capitalists.

However, handled efficiently it could be a way for regions like the Caribbean to have more control over funds for their player-development schemes. And if an infusion of business acumen also happens to improve the efficiency of cricket administration in places like Pakistan and the West Indies, it could only benefit the game.

If the ICC doesn't take firm control over the rampant Twenty20 expansion, the IPL will. The IPL will quickly spread its wings, ensuring the bulk of the income will end up either in the bulging pockets of rich entrepreneurs or the abundant coffers of the BCCI. If this occurs, it will be a glorious opportunity missed, the international playing field will remain tilted, and the overall development of cricket will suffer.

Countries like Australia have a dilemma: the domestic Twenty20 competition is becoming more popular with each game but this has diluted the fans' spending power for international cricket.

If, on the other hand, the ICC develops the right formula for franchising, it could have a profound effect on the direction the game takes. Not only could it result in cricket successfully expanding to regions like North America, Europe and the non-traditional cricket areas of Asia, it may also mean a marked change in the way the game is run.

Currently, countries like Australia have a dilemma; the domestic Twenty20 competition is becoming more popular with each game but this has diluted the fans' spending power for international cricket. Consequently the crowds at limited-overs internationals have reduced. In most parts of the cricketing world this is a common problem; one form of the game is cannibalising another.

India is the only country with the population, the thriving economy and the fanatical interest in the game to be able to programme matches at virtually any time and still attract big crowds.

Hence the ICC needs to explore other potentially productive markets that will decrease the dependence on India's financial clout, while also adding to the number of venues available at different times of the year.

There is the possibility that if you allocate separate sections of the season to different forms of the game it will divide the spectators. It could become a case of: "I'm a Test match supporter" or "I'm a Twenty20 fan". Nevertheless, it could also help players transition more easily from one form to another.

If what Harsha Bhogle tells me is true, that India thrives in chaos, then the rest of the cricket world is in trouble. Currently, cricket's scheduling is chaotic.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harsh on April 1, 2010, 0:11 GMT

    To be honest, I have commented on cricinfo on 'Magazine' section quite often, the one thing I can say about Ian Chappell is that, any kind of comments are passing through his article. Seriously, I am so surprised, I have crossed line in few articles reply, and as expected my comments were not published. However, IC is one of the person who allows any kind of comments, despite personal humiliation. May be, he is kind of man, who believes like, "If I have right to say something, others should have been given too". However, lot of idiots are taking advantage of this. :SAD to see that. Spamming the article. These are really good ideas, and i think even IPL can get lot of recognition from it. Cricket is no where near to Football. This is golden opp. to spread the Cricket. Use it or loose it. Peace

  • Karthi Keyan on March 31, 2010, 9:32 GMT

    The more articles I read by Ian Chappell on CricInfo, the more I realize he has an axe to grind against all things Indian. No one stopped either the CA or any of the other boards from developing an interesting format to improve their finances or popularize the game. The BCCI, Mr.Lalit Modi and the IPL took an existing idea and converted it into a brilliant business opportunity for entrepreneurs (enterprising, Indian), a good means for cricketers from world over (both current and retired) to make some meaningful money and a happy way for generating finances for the BCCI. If the ICC could do anything constructive, it would / should have done it long long ago. On the contrary they have done everything possible to kill their credibility in multiple ways. So Ian, stop wasting your breath. All your ranting will not be able to stop the progress of the IPL - coz, there will be more gainers than losers.

  • Paul on March 31, 2010, 0:55 GMT

    Why is everyone concerned about the difficulty of making the IPL compliant with the ICC's requirements? The IPL, morally, should comply - after all, they're making money off the talents of players developed by the ICC. And if the IPL doesn't comply tell them that the ICC will start banning players. This will cause plenty of short-term pain for the ICC, as some cricketers will try to leave and join the IPL, but in the long run where will the IPL get players - they can't develop them, can they?

  • Mohan on March 30, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    Anytime Intl. cricketers are involved, ICC should control tournament? Does FIFA control Premier league, does FIBA control NBA, does IIHF control NHL?????? Learn about international sports before spewing these worthless comments.

    National boards can stop their players (with central contracts) from playing in IPL. IPL is actually better than football leagues, it actually requires a NOC from home boards. So stop your players from playing.

    And Indians are paying for IPL so why should any money go to other countries. Does Australian Football federation get money when Tim Cahill plays for Everton? That's just preposterous.

    Ian Chapell should stop living in cloud cuckoo land.

    And for years every Tom Dick and Harry used to play on the county circuit and these same hypocrites used to be okay with it. No question of ICC administering then?

  • Apyboutit on March 30, 2010, 12:47 GMT

    "I tell you, this is a serious problem! You cannot ignore it. If you ignore it, you may not even have 2 square meals a day from tomorrow. Your neighbors will ask you the vacate, wherever you go! You first born may not respect you. The problem has got only one solution. It is so dangerous for the peace of the world that we all should get together and tackle it the way I want it to be tackled. In fact, I am sorry, for the sake of humanity, that this problem has been allowed to sprout at all! What are we going to do now! so you all ask me what the problem is? huh? Well, IPL, and BCCI, and India, and Modi, and .. and ... er. Modi, huuuh, and Modi and IPL. No remember, this is a genuine problem. It is going to stop the way you lived ever! So, NOW, are you convinced that this is a problem, .. huh? and of course it is a threat to Test Cricket! So, ... let us device plans, one per fortnight, to eradicate this problem. ... for world balance, we desperately need it, you see!" - Ian.

  • Noman on March 30, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    ….And if the likes of IPL do not join the band wagon, then they can be left to live in their own euphoria, or better still they can banned on the lines of ICL for not being ICC sanctioned. As far as the proposed leagues go, their make-up could be finalized amongst the respective boards. During the remaining 9 months, minimum possible ODIs and T20I should be played. This is likely to make the game much more interesting and compelling. Cheers!

  • Noman on March 30, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    I've been advocating a 3 month window for MULTIPLE leagues (just not IPL) between mid-Feb to mid-May; no international matches should be played during that time. During the first 2 months, 5 leagues should have their own tournaments; and in the third month ICC should have the champions league among 6 league champions and runner-ups. 6 leagues should be IPL, Aus-NZ league, Pak-SL-Bang league, SA-Zimb-Kenya league, US League (including WI) and English league (who would play their tournament in their own season ala Russian league in UEFA). Each and every team should be asked to have min 2 associate players (inc Zimb, BD and Ken) in the squad and one in the final XI. 5% revenue from the leagues and 10% revenue from the champions league should directly go back to the game. Out of champions league's 10%, half should be distributed equally amongst players who play test cricket (irrespective of whether or not they play other formats) and Games should be played on only 3-4 days during a week.…

  • Franklin on March 30, 2010, 10:54 GMT

    its true that whenever any asian country tries to prosper, the australians and the british always try to push them back. let it be any sports. BCCI has achieved this level on its own. and stil will be independent. icc should continue its schedule uninterrepted. let the ipl go the other side.

  • Dummy4 on March 30, 2010, 10:41 GMT

    IC is a jealous soul ... Case closed.

  • Amit on March 30, 2010, 1:50 GMT

    Highest level cricket is not played between 5-6 countries but only 3-4 Cricket teams only exist through out in cricket history which play competitive game based on results in any part of Cricket History in last 20 years 0r even more than that. The argument of Soccer skills should not be done by us Indians as our players who play soccer do not play to improve skills like in a professional setup of equal competition as players have to learn first by competition to know exact shortcomings and then work on them conceptually . This no way means that we Indians can not ever compete in that sport if a professional setup exists as soccer like all international sports gives equal chance on paper only as individuals who play sport can always shock opponents by skill enhancement with pratice and they need that setup to motivate them for first step and then end result depends on inividual bases dedication only. Past never matters as individuals can shock only if people believe media stories.

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