Dream of franchise cricket beginning to face harsh reality

Ajit Vijaykumar 16:18 15/08/2019
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Eoin Morgan was one of the star names associated with Euro T20 Slam.

Change is the only constant. In the fast changing world of likes and retweets, expecting things to remain stable or predictable is infantile.

The cricketing landscape altered dramatically in the last decade, which is no surprise given the proliferation of T20 and franchise cricket. The rules of the game, figuratively speaking, were not the same anymore and playing Tests – or even international cricket – was not the ultimate aim of every budding player.

As IPL burst onto the international scene and carved two months out of the calendar just for itself, it became evident that cricket boards and players were going to follow the money. Slowly but surely, top limited overs cricketers started to pick and chose between international assignments and franchise cricket. Nearly the entire elite group of Windies cricket became freelancers with almost all of them giving up on Tests.

Franchise cricket gave many players on the fringes of the national team and those past their prime an opportunity. They found that it would be easier to give up their national contract and make themselves available for three to four tournaments a year and still earn more money while playing lesser cricket.

But with the game cannibalising itself, something was always going to give. And it has started to.

The inaugural Euro T20 Slam was on Wednesday postponed to 2020, just two weeks before it was supposed to kick off with teams from the Netherlands, Ireland, and Scotland. But cash flow problems and other organisational issues forced the promoters to push it back to next year.

Trouble began when the recently concluded Global T20 Canada – backed by the same entity which is behind the Euro T20 Slam – saw teams refusing to play matches until their payments were cleared.

Needless to say, it’s the players who have been hit the hardest. Many top names like Rashid Khan, Chris Lynn and Shane Watson had opted out of Caribbean Premier League – which begins in September – to be a part of the Euro. This will be a serious hit to their finances and also confidence in the franchise model.

Here in the UAE, we saw the ill-fated Masters Champions League fold up after one season in 2016 with many players not paid for their services. Then last year, the proposed UAE T20x was postponed with the Emirates Cricket Board now looking at a relaunch in 2020. Also, the Hong Kong T20 Blitz was called off last month due to financial issues.

Franchise cricket is great for the viewers. But it is an increasingly volatile product which is feeling the pinch of global slowdown. There is a limited amount of money in the game, which oscillates between franchise and international cricket. A major chunk of it is generated either in India or by entities targeting the Indian audience and thus securing sponsorship. For anything else, there just isn’t enough appetite in the market.

What players need to realise is that you can be a journeyman cricketer only if you are very good at what you do and can get into IPL, Big Bash, T20 Blast, Bangladesh Premier League, Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League. Apart from these, there isn’t much by way of long-term, guaranteed cricket around which players can plan for the next five to seven years.

If you are a mid-tier player and have a national or a domestic contract, think twice before chucking it in the hope of prime franchise dollars. Even the England board is reportedly feeling a cash pinch owing to the launch of ‘The Hundred’. So be safe, and hope there is enough to go around for everyone in this game.

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Inaugural Euro T20 Slam postponed until 2020

Phil Casey 11:49 15/08/2019
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Rashid Khan, Eoin Morgan and Imran Tahir were the top names associated with Euro T20 Sla. Image: @et20s.

The inaugural Euro T20 Slam has been postponed until 2020, just two weeks before it was due to start, tournament organisers have announced.

The newest Twenty20 competition on the global cricket calendar was scheduled to see six teams from three countries – Ireland, Holland and Scotland – compete over 33 games between August 30 and September 22.

Prashant Mishra, speaking on behalf of the board of the Euro T20 Slam, said organisers had “reluctantly come to the decision that staging of the event will not be possible in 2019,” but did not offer any specific reasons.

Mishra added: “We want to ensure that the inaugural staging of the Euro T20 Slam provides the best springboard to making this a truly flagship event on the global cricket calendar. As such, we believe the right course of action is to postpone the Slam to a further date. This will give us the necessary breathing space to ensure we are ready to go.

“We will work with the three cricket boards, our principal investors, the franchise owners, players and other stakeholders within the game to ensure we fulfill any commitments we have made to the extent possible. We want to ensure the goodwill and integrity that we have built up rolls on into 2020.”

Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision and would seek “increased comfort that the organisers will be able to avoid a repeat of this year’s challenges in future editions”.

England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan had been selected as the “icon” player for the Dublin Chiefs in July’s draft.

“I never thought I’d play cricket for Dublin,” Morgan had said.

“I grew up watching the Dublin (Gaelic) football team do special things but to play cricket for Dublin is brilliant.

“It feels weird now but when you think about everything that is going on with Irish and Scottish cricket – Scotland turned (England) over last year, which was great for the game – it’s important to lay a platform to give people opportunities to play on a more consistent basis against some of the best players in the world.

“It’s brilliant and I think there’s a market for it as well.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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West Indies v India LIVE: Visitors need 255 to win in 35 overs after Chris Gayle's blitz

Sport360 staff 23:39 14/08/2019
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Gayle brought India to their knees in the third ODI.

India have been set a stiff target of runs to get in overs in the third and final ODI against the West Indies after an explosive half-century from veteran Chris Gayle.

The Caribbean side put up a challenging 240-7 on the board after rain reduced the match to 35 overs per side with Gayle top-scoring with a 41-ball 72.

Virat Kohli and his men currently hold a 1-0 lead in the three-match series after their 59-run win in the second ODI while the first match was washed out due to rain.

Will West Indies halt India’s momentum and level the series or will the visitors prove to be too good for the hosts once again? Find out below by following the ball-by-ball action from the Port of Spain.

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