The running of multiple major T20 leagues simultaneously has not only triggered a tug-of-war among franchises trying to secure players, but has also put at risk the quality of bilateral fixtures that are part of the ICC's future touring schedule. However, T20 leagues also provide an option for players to maintain a better work-life balance while increasing their financial security.
While players have begun to opt out of the national retainer, recently boards such as the England and Wales Cricket Board in the UK have redesigned contracts by offering more attractive, long-term deals to secure their best players across all three formats. Have started doing.
As the former CEO of New Zealand Cricket, you faced the challenge of attracting international players through T20 leagues. Now that you are on the other side, how do you see the situation: Is there friction between countries and T20 leagues?
I wouldn't call it friction. Cricket is clearly going through a bit of a transition at the moment. I think the positive thing is that we have three formats of the game very competitive at the international level and they are performing very well. great to see this [ODI] Very good performance in the World Cup India. Test cricket is going through a bit of a revival at the moment, which is fantastic. And of course, T20 has been the financial lifeblood – let's not hide the fact that much of it comes from Indian broadcast money, primarily from the T20 revolution.
But now you've come across a situation where you've got something [T20] League. I wouldn't call it friction because all the leagues are actually – except the ILT20 and MLC – full-member leagues, so they are from within the system.
We are unique in that we are an ally that doesn't play [much] International cricket. There is some misconception that these leagues are competing with international cricket when most of them are actually based in full-member countries. I don't think you can call them competition within full-member countries.
“I wouldn't call it friction because all the leagues are actually – except the ILT20 and MLC – full-member leagues, so they are from within the system. We are unique in that we are an ally that doesn't play [much] “International Cricket”
White on T20 league vs international cricket
The positive thing for me now working in the T20 league is that not only do I see a real opportunity for full-time international cricketers to make a good living, but now you have a lot of cricketers around the world who are doing this business. Are. Play T20 cricket, and they usually also play first-class cricket. So for them to have the opportunity to make a good living playing cricket around the world is a positive thing for cricket. If you think about those years when first-class cricketers – and I was one of them, many years ago – struggled to get remuneration in the off-season, or to get a job. So now you have got first-class cricketers who are plying their trade and making a good living. I have calculated that there are probably 150-200 players worldwide playing in the league.
You say so, but the SA20 is currently running parallel to South Africa's Test series in New Zealand. Luckily, you're not the CEO of NZC, otherwise you'd be thinking of the second-string South African Test team. A similar debate also surrounded the quality of the West Indies team during the two-match Test series in Australia. Players will make choices, but will international cricket, especially Test cricket, suffer in the long run? Does it have to be accepted?
I will answer this in a different way. Firstly, in the position I have been in in New Zealand cricket, we have always taken a very pragmatic approach towards our players playing in the league. We were very keen to secure our domestic season, but then outside the domestic season, we were very open to players playing in the IPL, CPL, The Hundred, PSL, BPL, as long as they hit the New Zealand window Were. , But what you are saying now is that there are more opportunities for players.
Ultimately, the market will decide where it will go. But from a New Zealand cricket perspective, when I was CEO there – and I can't speak for them now – we always protected the Test window and the players did the same.
We have to treat it like a business, in a way. If a player decides to play for the league, do you think it is the responsibility of the league to pay a certain amount to the home board?
This is a big, big area of debate. Players are developed by their countries, not just by the board, but by the schools they went to, the clubs they played for, their first division teams and so on. Now there is a provision in the rules, as I understand it, that some compensation will be returned to the boards, but if it becomes too prohibitive, that will be a challenge. The market will decide for itself in the next two or three years.
The ICC has recently decided to impose a limit on foreign players in any new T20 league. The ILT20 allows a maximum of nine overseas players in the XI. Is there any cut-off date decided internally where the number of local UAE players in the team will increase?
One of the motivations for establishing the league was the future development of UAE cricket and building on its strengths. I am happy with the performance of many players already present in the league. He has really excelled. Internally, the Emirates Cricket Board would like to see more of its players playing in a very short period of time. So in the next two, three, four years, you will see some more players from UAE playing in the league. There is no target date, but I know the people at the ECB are very motivated to make sure [number] Increases.
The other big problem for ILT20 is that it clashes with several major T20 leagues – BBL, SA20, BPL and PSL. Are there plans to create a special window to avoid or reduce conflicts as this allows you to have players available for a longer period of time?
That's a very good question, and I can tell you that this morning I was looking at the FTP, looking at all the conflicts, also looking at the Champions Trophy, which starts in early February. , And, of course, international teams will want to prepare for the Champions Trophy with white-ball cricket.
“Internally, the Emirates Cricket Board would like to see more of its players playing in a very short period of time. So in the next two, three, four years, you will see some more players from UAE playing in the league.
The interesting situation for us is that most of the T20 leagues, except the Caribbean, are based in the Southern Hemisphere [CPL]England [the Hundred]and india [IPL] Up to one level. So they play in their summer, but with the UAE, it's still hot to play in the summer, so we play in the winter. So there are such clashes with the southern hemisphere. Therefore, a lot of crowd is seen in January-February next year. There is no hiding from this fact.
And I'm sure everyone is watching that window closely and considering the best option to move forward, including the complexities of holding the Champions Trophy so early in the Southern Hemisphere season.
Could ILT20 take place in another window in 2025?
No, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that we are looking out the window, we are looking at the clashes. We are currently scheduled for January-February. This is where the league has been played for the last two years and it has been a very successful window. The atmosphere is great, and we have good quality players, but next year, especially, is going to be challenging for everyone.
If player availability becomes a major challenge then you could see another window in 2025.
Yes. What I can say is that at the moment it is still fixed for the same period, but we are considering all options and just keeping a close eye on what cricket will be played next year, Which tours will happen and what will be the added complexity of the Champions Trophy. So no decision has been taken, still in the writing in the current window, but we are keeping a close eye on it.
Did you consider holding ILT20 in the October-November window? Or are you going to be limited to January-February in the long run?
What I'm saying is there is a current window. But we are looking at options, looking at taking the FTP forward, looking at conflicts with ICC events and keeping an open mind. The advantage of DP World ILT20 is that we do not have a full international calendar like other countries. We don't play Test matches, so there's probably more flexibility than other countries, especially in the southern hemisphere.
I think so, but we also have some important advantages. And speaking to players and coaches, they love coming here to the UAE at this time of the year. The weather is beautiful, the facilities are good, they don't have to travel. It's a very family-oriented environment. They bring their families, they stay in beautiful hotels, and they play a very high level of cricket with nine foreign players. Players love to be competitive and the feedback we are getting is that the league is very competitive from a player perspective. So it is a very attractive place for players to come and spend a month.
One thing that has been really pleasing is the arrival of Pakistani superstars this season. What really elevated ILT20 was the interaction with the crowd and the crowd animation especially for the Pakistani players. [amazing], In the second week of the competition, I felt a real surge and a real momentum, which continued. We've had fantastic crowds: 45,000 people last weekend, and 17,000 people at the Dubai Stadium on Sunday.