Cricket-being a sport- connects millions of people together in harmony. This emotion-oriented game has covered a massive viewership and popularity over the course of its history. In the fast-growing world, this sport has revolutionized at a steep rate. The transitions between the formats, the increasing coverage technology, the better playing conditions, etc. have all contributed to its progress.
With the advent of T20I cricket, T10 format, and especially franchise cricket leagues (offering more money), the players have become more tilted towards the shorter formats rather than playing long formats for their country. The recent examples do back up the previous arguments. The cricket teams like Zimbabwe, West Indies had disputes with their boards over their pay issues and hence the players started to prefer the league cricket over their national commitments. Bangladesh's cricket team has become a recent causality of this issue. The players went on strike and demanded the board to raise their pays.
In Cricket South Africa, Kolpak signings have proved to be a chaos for them. Many of their players left the team and joined the English county teams. The developing countries like Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, West Indies with relatively poorer cricket boards have struggled to deal with the players in the matter of money. As a result, players prefer the franchise cricket over the National commitments. This raises a question. Is money becoming the real driving force behind cricket?
As they say, the world runs on the principle “WHO NEEDS WHO MORE”. It depends on whether the player needs the board more or the board needs the players. Money has indubitably become an influential factor in cricket. The powerful Cricket Boards and the Franchise Leagues attract the players by showing them the incentives of money. The players, whose needs are not fulfilled, willingly accept the offers.
Recently the former cricketers gave their views on this burning predicament. Former Pakistani cricketer, Ramiz Raja advised the cricket boards to have separate budgets for the cricketers who are in demand of the global leagues. On the other hand, the West Indian player, Michael Holding confronted Ramiz and said that the poorer boards do not have enough money to accept this deal. Holding bashed International Cricket Council (ICC) for not standing up in this regard. He feels that ICC should help poorer cricket boards with money in order to settle them in the cricket structure.
Shaun Pollock argued the fact that although cricket is becoming a business, with powerful boards holding the monopoly, yet these franchise leagues won’t be interesting to watch if it does not include quality International players. Harsha Bhogle, the veteran Indian cricketer backed up the fact that money is actually becoming a real force behind cricket. He feels that the players will naturally pursue things with materialistic benefits.
Currently, BCCI, ECB, and CA are predominantly the most powerful cricket boards in the country. Indian Premier League, is the most efficient tournament in the world, has allowed the Indian players to stick to their own cricket team, however; Harsha claimed that BCCI feels that they are losing the bargaining power in the ICC and hence these strong cricket boards (also CA and ECB) will further try to tighten up their screws to uphold their authority.
Summarizing it all, it is the need of the hour that the cricketing boards band together and work for the common good. ICC needs to take the charge and make sure that the franchise leagues do not affect the integrity of cricket and the cricketing body should also work to solve the disputes between the cricket boards and the players otherwise this beautiful game of cricket will just become a money-making business.