Archive for June 4, 2008

T20 leagues make cricket a viable career option

Cricket is a dynamic sport that over a century has reinvented itself, making it relevant for its contemporary fans. Whether it was transition from the 8 ball over to a six ball entity; or to restricting a test match to 5 days, the game has evolved over a period of time.

As far as the supremacy and importance of Test cricket goes, it has to be put into perspective that it is the supreme test of skills of a player and not necessarily the choice of format for the consumer (read Fans). The fact that most opinions about the game come from former stalwarts it is logical that Test cricket and its importance get highlighted.

It also has to do with old power brokers of the game come from England rather than the Indian sub continent. The majority patrons of the game in the British Isles has been the pensioners who have only know test cricket format of the game , which is not the case with the sub continent where the consumer is far more younger and encompasses a larger population base as fans of the game.

However what this has done over the years is, it has limited the sport at the international level and the success is enjoyed by elite players and national teams. Unfortunately the success has not trickled down to the domestic players.

When test cricket ruled the roost it used to be an amateur sport played by the elite aristocrats & survived on patronage. Players were under paid and considering cricket as a full time profession was next to impossible for the common man.

It took the packer series to rectify this weakness by introducing the vibrant One day format which caught the imagination of the cricket fan.

Till today one day cricket is the commercial driver of the sport which also compensates test cricket. This format however did not help explore the possibility to market domestic cricket unlike other sporting disciplines like soccer and cricket remained an international level sport.

League cricket conceptualized by the ICL & followed by the IPL has today made domestic cricket commercially viable, in turn making domestic cricket a financially viable option. A player no longer has to live through the uncertainties of making it to the coveted national team to make a successful career out of the sport.

Also the fact that league cricket has increased the commercial gains enjoyed by international stalwarts, at the same time maintaining the intense sanctity of serious cricket at the T20 level.

This has led to stalwarts of the game like Tendulkar & Hayden extend their support to this form of the game.

I think the game is in for a change in order & its survival will not be depend on the relevance of the ICC or financial condition of the various national boards. The change in order means players rule the roost and the majority of future cricket will be the T20 league format with international encounters confined to the realms of a premium event on the international calendar.

The ICL with its resources has the flexibility on taking the first step making league cricket a year long fixture & it is for the IPL to follow suit rather than escape the opportunity on the excuse of an outdated ICC calendar.

The greatest thing about the T20 leagues is it encompasses a larger player pool to enjoy the commercial & social benefits that the game has to offer.

This in turn makes it possible for any young teenager bestowed with cricket talent to pursue it with single determination as a career option.

Viva cricketers, it is after all they who are responsible for making the game an enthralling experience for the consumers (the single biggest patron of the game rather than ICC or cricket boards) of the game.

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