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August 6, 2008
Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, feels the spread of Twenty20 cricket needs to be controlled to prevent it from "taking international cricket apart" and says the "big solution" is to have one consolidated tournament where all cricket-playing countries get to share the revenue.
Speaking to Cricinfo editor Sambit Bal in Colombo, Jayawardene observed that, with players and administrators across the world driven by money, the time had come to strike a balance and get the priorities right on developing the game's shortest format.
"At the end of the day everything is driven by money," Jayawardene said. "You have to be honest with yourself. That means the players, the administrators, everybody. As long as everyone is happy and gets to share that, I think that's the way forward. That's where everyone has to draw a compromise."
"You need to strike a balance because they cannot compete with each other on these issues," he said. "It is important that you sit down and everyone gets together and finds one big solution. That is, to have one big tournament where you get all the revenue and cricket-playing countries to share that."
Jayawardene did not agree with the suggestion that Twenty20 might become 'The Game' if money is the overriding factor, and reiterated the answer lies in consolidation and not in having "five individual tournaments".
"If you have one big tournament and the revenue is being shared, then everyone's happy," he said. "You won't need to play five individual tournaments. Then there's room for Test cricket and you can pump in money and develop the game and take it globally. That's where the compromise needs to be drawn and everyone gets together to find a solution."
Asked whether the BCCI, which runs the IPL and is a founding partner of the Champions Twenty20 League, should take the lead and let everyone share the pot, Jayawardene said, "That's difficult for me to say after one year of the IPL. I don't know how big the English Premier League (EPL) or the Stanford games are going to be, but somewhere you have to draw the line. You have people competing against each other and taking international cricket apart. It's important to understand where you need to draw that line."
Jayawardene, who has signed a three-year contract for US$475,000 per season with Kings XI Punjab, the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, said the best way forward is for all those involved in promoting Twenty20 cricket to draw the line and arrive at a compromise.
"The times and ways of thinking are changing and you need to evolve around that. Twenty20 is good for the game as long as people keep control of things," Jayawardene said. "You can't have three or four Twenty20 international tournaments a year. You just can't have that. It has to be controlled. Tests are very important; one-day cricket is important. You can't think that everybody wants Twenty20 cricket. Everyone wants cricket, but they want different varieties and there is a demand for everything."
The Sri Lankan players are currently in negotiations with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) over rescheduling the country's 2009 England tour, which clashes with the second IPL season. Apart from Jayawardene, 12 Lankan cricketers have signed for various IPL franchises, including Kumar Sangakkara, the vice-captain, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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