Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Radical changes needed

Friday is a landmark day in the history of cricket.
Because, which ever way you look at it, professional cricket will never be the same after the Royal Challengers take on Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in Bangalore.
It’s been billed as Rahul Dravid v Sourav Ganguly. But it is much more than that. It’s a challenge to world order, because the global ‘game’ of cricket is never going to be the same again.
The top earners in the IPL, like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Andrew Symonds, will earn more than £500,000 for just six weeks ‘work’. Crazy, isn’t it?
England players on contract - like Kevin Pietersen and Ryan Sidebottom - are currently the only international stars not allowed to sign up. Only one current England player, Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, has opted to take the Indian rupee so far.
But it would be a mistake to dismiss the IPL as a sideshow as English cricket lurches into another sleepy summer of ‘action’.
Many think the challenge from the two Indian competitions must be met head-on with radical counter-proposals, otherwise county cricket will start to unravel. Let’s face it. County cricket is not what it was, is it? Hardly anyone watches it for a start. It’s full of foreign players barring the way for up and coming English kids. And what’s that Kolpack all about?
Despite all the tinkering it’s the speeded up, fan-friendly Twenty20 that’s really caught the imagination.
The solution could be the multi-million pound English version of the IPL suggested by Texan billionaire Allen Stanford. Stanford, who has bankrolled Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean, is currently having talks with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Players are bound to be jealous when they see the amount of money their peers are earning. Last season Pietersen was complaining he had played too much cricket; that he was burnt out. Only a few weeks ago he said he wasn’t interested in the IPL, he wanted to concentrate on England. Now, shock, horror, he appears to have changed his stance. He now says it is “ridiculous” England stars are not allowed to play.
There are rumours that some could refuse to sign their contracts when they come up for renewal in September. Do that and we are in danger of killing the goose that laid the golden egg and going down the football route of player power. I doubt there will be another Kerry Packer-type breakaway tournament. But you never know!

No comments: