"You talk about American sport - I know Dan watches his baseball, I watch a lot of NBA basketball, and each team plays 70-odd games a season. There's the All-Star break in between where they get a week off, but it is really stretched"Ian Bishop
The IPL media and broadcasting rights for the next five-year cycle are going to go up for sale in June, and the value of the property is expected to increase massively. Could the IPL then become even bigger, with more matches and more matchdays? It's not inconceivable. But that means the possibility of the international calendar being even more squeezed. So what, asks Ravi Shastri. Bilateral T20 series should go off the table, he says, and international T20s should only be played at World Cups.
"Yes, absolutely, there's too much of bilateral stuff going on in T20 cricket," Shastri said on ESPNcricinfo's Runorder programme. "I've said that [before], even when I was the coach of India, I could see it happening in front of my eyes. It should go the football way, where, in T20 cricket, you just play the World Cup. Bilateral tournaments - no one remembers.
"I don't remember a single game in the last six-seven years as coach of India, barring the World Cup. A team wins the World Cup, they will remember it. Unfortunately, we didn't, so I don't remember that either. Where I am coming from is: you play franchise cricket around the globe; each country is allowed to have their franchise cricket, which is their domestic cricket, and then, every two years, you come and play a World Cup."
The discussion was on the future of the IPL at the end of the 2022 season on Sunday night. It featured ten teams and 74 matches, spread over 65 days. Speaking on the programme, Daniel Vettori, Ian Bishop and Aakash Chopra agreed that the IPL was likely to get bigger. Could it have two windows every year, of two months each? Why not? Could it become a six-month league along the lines of some other sports leagues around the world? Maybe. Could it render bilateral T20 cricket redundant? Possibly.
As it stands, some international cricket is played during the IPL every year, but there is almost always a tussle between the boards involved in these series and their players who have IPL deals. Compromises are usually arrived at, not always to the satisfaction of the players or the boards, or the IPL franchises whose plans are formulated around their entire bank of players.
"I actually foresee there might be two editions of the IPL in every calendar year," Chopra said. "And that's not too far away."
"That's the future," agreed Shastri. "It could be tomorrow - 140 games, split 70-70. In two seasons. You never know. That's the way it's going to go. That's the way it's developed as a beast of a property. And you cannot hide away from that.
"You might think that's overdose, but nothing is overdose in India. I have been sitting outside the bubble, I have been watching people, how they have seen, how they have reviewed these last few months, especially [after coming] out of Covid. And they are loving every bit of it, and they are almost having withdrawal symptoms."
Bishop and Vettori concurred. "It could well happen," Bishop said. "You talk about American sport - I know Dan watches his baseball, I watch a lot of NBA basketball, and each team plays 70-odd games a season. There's the All-Star break in between where they get a week off, but it is really stretched."
On the subject of player availability and that of support staffers, who often sign up for other gigs for the non-IPL part of the year, Vettori felt, "That can easily be sorted with remuneration and another window being carved out, which the BCCI has the power to do."