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The Light Roller

Death by T20 leagues? It's real, it's coming

Perhaps you've been signed up for one and don't know about it yet

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
15-Aug-2022
Mauritius-Mauritania confusion is a no-no when you're a globetrotting T20 professional desirous of being at the right game on the right day of the week  •  Getty Images

Mauritius-Mauritania confusion is a no-no when you're a globetrotting T20 professional desirous of being at the right game on the right day of the week  •  Getty Images

Sometimes it feels like cricket's administrators saw that scene from A Clockwork Orange, where Malcolm McDowell's character is strapped to a chair and forced to watch reels of footage against his will, and thought: "Yes, that's an excellent way to promote our product." Do not adjust your eyeballs, basically.
Concerning us this month is not so much the potential death of one format, which caused our shorter, less-punctual cousin the Briefing to come over all Arthur Schopenhauer recently, but the relentless mushrooming of another. Alongside the climate emergency, looming energy shortages, rising authoritarianism and global economic meltdown, scientists have now identified a superabundance of T20 leagues as the latest threat to life on earth.
Suddenly they are springing up everywhere, inflicting strategic timeouts and Danny Morrison on unsuspecting populations the world over. Soon, the major leagues will have to start creating windows within windows to allow their feeder T20 competitions space to grow, with players floating from auction to auction like chum tossed into the sea. If you are fit and healthy and know how to hold a bat, you may find you have already been signed up for a draft soon to be held in Nepal or the Maldives.
It's a lot to keep up with, but have no fear. The Light Roller is here with a handy rundown of all the officially sanctioned T20 leagues currently in business (only some of which have been made up).
Indian Premier League
Big Daddy Cash. Next to playing for your country, there is no greater honour than telling the board you need an NOC for the IPL. Who are we kidding? There is no greater honour full stop.
Big Bash League
Used to be cool, now considered something of a buzzkill. Probably jumped the shark around the time they introduced the "Bash Boost".
Pakistan Super League
The hipster's choice, equally appealing to data freaks and gap-year kids backpacking around the subcontinent. Just don't mention James Faulkner's name if you want to get paid.
Caribbean Premier League
Annual cricket-themed tourism promotion. Four weeks of drinking rum punch by the pool, with the possibility of guest starring in a Chris Gayle music video.
The Hundred
Part of the ECB's grand vision to inspire a generation of crisp lovers. Simplified version of the game but also way more confusing. Not really T20, but still officially T20.
Lanka Premier League
Pop-up event that is usually convened at less than a month's notice. Sign-on fee includes free coupon for a meal (starter + main) at the Ministry of Crab.
Super Smash
Sustainable, child-friendly, ethically sourced. But in the wrong time zone so no one cares.
International League T20
Shameless money-grabbing enterprise that wants to make mercenaries of us all. Everything the other leagues aspire to, essentially.
CSA T20
Big Daddy Cash's side hustle. Likely to be junked and rebranded within the next three years.
TrumpT20 (24)
Tax fiddle aimed at bringing in campaign funds for the 2024 US presidential elections. High chance of getting raided by the Feds.
Crimean Premier League
Legitimate business enterprise established by self-determining autonomously governed nation state, and in no way an exercise in sports-washing. Nyet.
International Space Station T20
Fact-finding mission to establish whether alien lifeforms have heard of Reliance Industries. Zero gravity, zero caps on foreign players [That's enough T20 leagues now - Ed].

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Whether the ever-expanding T20 bubble turns out to be just that remains to be seen. The Light Roller reckons it's a fair bet some of those contracts will end up being worth as much as a Ravi Bopara "pants off" NFT. But the pressure on relations between players and boards is real enough. At the same time as Andre Russell was throwing shade on Insta at comments made by West Indies head coach Phil Simmons about his availability, Trent Boult was announcing his conscious uncoupling from NZC. No surprise that the New Zealanders were the first to go down this route, given their relentless good-guys shtick - though it throws up existential angst of a different kind. After all, if a national cricket board isn't damagingly overworking its players while denying them any sense of free agency, is it really a national cricket board at all?

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Shakib Al Hasan embroiled in new controversy, you say? Yes, we could all do with some fresh material. But hold on, because this might just be his meisterwerk. First, Shakib tweets about his new promotional link-up with Betwinner News. Surely this can't have anything to do with betting, you think. From a player who recently served a ban for corruption. In a country where gambling is illegal. Betwinner News were more than happy to clear things up, posting this completely plausible disclaimer online: "Warning! In avoidance of doubt this site doesn't have any relation to any kind of betting or gambling activities! It's sports news portal only! If you visited this site to look for betting or gambling opportunities, please, leave now!" Still, having been told it was his Bangladesh career or his betting/not betting bunce, Shakib withdrew from the deal… and was promptly made captain of the T20 side for the Asia Cup. Which, thinking about it, is probably punishment enough.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick