The mushrooming of various T20 franchisee leagues around the world has brought its share of pitfalls along with its entertainment value and financial upliftment for cricketers specially those who struggle to make their national team. The latest victim has been the Afghanistan cricket. Citing integrity issues which also involves financial controversies, the Afghan cricket board has postponed its T20 franchisee league for the forthcoming season citing major issues as above with Snixer sports, an Indian and UAE based company which supports the Afghan premier league. Snixer sports on their part has bounced back with legal notice. This has resulted in the Indian company seriously contemplating a massive financial compensation to the tune of 10 million USD, which alone can totally empty the coffers of Afghan Cricket Board being such a smaller body compared to the established cricket nations. The Indian company made investments over 5 million in 1st season to stabilise the APL. Already there were murmurs earlier of irregularities in the first edition of APL which is world’s only T20 asset which is 100% privately funded . According to reports, there were allegations of misconduct by few ACB officials and stakeholders in the previous league and the same is under inquiry with ICC. This, in turn can prove detrimental for existing player contracts and even their cricketing future. Afghanistan has just started to make its mark in top level cricket, hence these issues are not good for their existence. This is indeed a big issue which needs to be sorted out by the ACB with the league stakeholders across the table sooner than later.
This one instance is just not an issue at the national level of a budding cricket nation but an issue at a wider level. During the past decade various T20 league a have mushroomed around the world at national level and local levels. The BBL and IPL are the two oldest T20 leagues. Now most major cricket nations are having their T20 leagues. The CPL in West Indies, Vitality blast in England , PCL in Pakistan, BPL in Bangladesh and leagues in South Africa, New Zealand and Srilanka with recent global league added in Canada. Even in India we have the state run T20 leagues. There have been instances and rumours of irregularities in many of these leagues with alleged instances of match fixing and approaches being made to players. Even the best T20 league in the World, the IPL went through major match fixing controversy in 2013 which resulted in suspending two top clubs for 2 years. With so much financial stakes across these global and local leagues, it’s time for ICC to act strongly and create extensive ground rules covering all parameters to be followed by these leagues across the world. If there is a requirement to scrap some of these leagues, the ICC has to act accordingly to safeguard the beautiful game.
T20 cricket is the format which is helping in globalisation of the game. It has brought with it financial well being for cricketers, greater fitness levels, enhanced fielding qualities, deft variations amongst bowlers , innovative strokeplay amongst batters and creating various scenarios to handle excruciating match pressure. Side by side it has eroded the defensive techniques of batters, generally discourages bowlers from bowling fast ,reduced boundary lengths and stamina amongst players to battle for long hours, the essence of long form cricket. With it, it has brought in various off the field irregularities as mentioned earlier. Proper guidance is now imperative for the younger cricket nations on how to run these tournaments.
ICC is the flagbearer and the watchdog of world cricket of which these T20 leagues has become an integral part. It’s high time for ICC to handle the game for overall betterment of all formats with special focus on T20 cricket and the all the intricacies associated with franchisee based cricket. There have been too many irrerugularies , incidents and rumours associated with the shortest format for comfort. It’s high time for ICC to act firm and set universal gound rules for overall betterment.
T20 has revolutionised World cricket, but it needs sensitive handling. The sooner all the stakeholders realise it , the better.