The success of the 2007 World Twenty20 made way for the rise of various franchise T20 leagues around the globe with almost every major cricketing nation now boasting a league of its own.
The short duration of the games draw huge international stars and lucrative broadcasting deals, making these leagues a huge hit among fans around the world.
Here, we rank the major T20 leagues which have gained immense popularity over the last decade or so.
Afghanistan Premier League (Afghanistan)
At the bottom of the deck lies the Afghan Premier League which has staged just the one edition to date. The only edition was held in the UAE in 2018 with Sharjah Cricket Stadium playing host to all games.
With five franchises involved, the APL did manage to make some big noises by drawing in the likes of Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi and Brendon McCullum. With Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, Afghanistan have plenty of their own T20 stars who have already made a name for themselves in other leagues around the world.
The league, though, has its teething issues already with the second edition postponed for 2020 after its commercial partners failed to pay the Afghanistan Cricket Board. There is a fat chance that the league could fold up in the near future.
Mzansi Super League (South Africa)
One of the newer entrants in the world of franchise cricket, the Mzansi Super League was given wings by Cricket South Africa in 2018. With a total of six franchises representing six different South African cities, the MSL has shown plenty of potential in its two completed editions so far.
The latest edition, held last month, saw big international names such as Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik and Jason Roy lending their presence to the league.
It will still take some more time for the MSL to become more embraced by the overseas players and audience, but a strong foundation has now been laid. However, with CSA constantly in turmoil, especially with finances, the MSL could see a few ups and downs in the coming years.
Bangladesh Premier League (Bangladesh)
The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) has not been without its fair share of scandals and controversies, but there is no doubt that it enjoys immense popularity in a nation addicted to cricket.
Started in 2012, the BPL is a franchise based league with as many as seven teams currently involved. As an exception, the ongoing 2019-20 edition has seen the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) take control of all the franchises to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
With Bangladesh’s rising economy and the backing of a frenzied cricket loving populace, the sponsors are rolling in while the stands remain packed for almost every game. The league has also been able to attract several high-profile overseas stars over the years and is arguably ahead of the PSL, BBL and the CPL in that regard.
It falls behind the other leagues due to its lack of global outreach though.
Caribbean Premier League (West Indies)
Having come into existence in 2013, the Caribbean Premier League has been making rapid strides in its popularity over the last few years. It helps that some of the biggest T20 stars on the circuit like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Dwayne Bravo are from the Caribbean itself.
Lately, plenty of overseas stars have joined the CPL bandwagon with Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and England players making a beeline for the league. There are many things which work in CPL’s favour with the party atmosphere generated at the grounds a major pull.
With six teams fighting it out for the title over the course of a month, the CPL has managed to carve itself a unique identity. The league continues to go from strength to strength and should have no shortage of takers in the coming years as well.
Pakistan Super League (Pakistan)
While India and Bangladesh have the IPL and BPL respectively, Pakistan were comparatively slow starters before finally launching the Pakistan Super League in 2016. The PSL has largely been held in the UAE since its inception, though the league has gradually been shifting to Pakistan soil with each passing edition.
The last couple of editions have seen the knock-out and final clashes being staged back in Pakistan with the league stage taking place in the UAE. For the first time in its history, all matches of the PSL will be held in Pakistan when the upcoming 2020 edition in February gets under way.
Initially started as a five-team league, the PSL now has six franchises in the competition. Sparse attendances in the UAE have hurt the PSL in its initial years, but a full return to Pakistan should completely flip that picture.
The league has the potential to become the second most popular franchise tournament in the coming years and the upcoming edition will give a clearer picture if that dream can become a reality.
T20 Blast (England)
England were the pioneers of the T20 format, although they are now set to introduce the 100-ball Hundred in the coming year. The oldest professional T20 tournament in the world, the competition has been in existence since 2003 and has undergone several name changes over the years.
Now known at the T20 Blast, the league has 18 first-class counties divided over two divisions to fight for the title. It does not rely on the model followed by other leagues around the world, with each county having the option of signing just one overseas professional for its roster.
It is also not a standalone competitions and runs concurrently with the County Championship and One-Day Cup. However, the quality of the tournament has remained good in the passing years and the Blast remains popular among the domestic cricket fans. However, it remains to be seen how the advent of The Hundred will affect the Blast’s viability.
Big Bash League (Australia)
Replacing the original Big Bash tournament in 2011, the BBL has been rising steadily over the last eight years. Despite lacking the participation of some of the biggest international names, the Australian league has managed to make a huge splash due to its immaculate organisation.
A salary cap and a limit of just two overseas players per franchise have not hindered the BBL from providing some top quality cricket and nail-biting thrillers over the course of its existence. The entertainment value is always high and the timing of its window has helped Cricket Australia make full advantage of the school holidays.
Young kids have taken an extreme liking to the league which sees excellent attendances in every city. A new lucrative broadcast deal and plenty of big sponsors makes the competition financially healthy and sustainable in the long run.
Despite its limitations, the BBL has managed to rope in AB de Villiers for the ongoing edition with the South Africa star set to don the colours of Brisbane Heat.
Indian Premier League (India)
With a five-year $2.55 billion broadcasting deal with Star India, the IPL remains the mother of all T20 franchise leagues and leaves every other competitor in its wake.
Since its inception in 2008, the league has been the gold standard of T20 franchise competitions with its enticing concoction of the biggest India and global stars, Bollywood stars, and a billion plus cricket fans giving it unrivalled popularity.
India remains the financial powerhouse of the global game and the fact that the IPL has its own window in the ICC Future Tours Programme (FTP) tells a story.
With owners, who have some of the deepest pockets in the world, the IPL has created several millionaires out of cricketers in the last decade with a six-week workload becoming a life-altering event for the players involved.
Earning just one contract in the IPL can set payers up for the rest of their lives and it is the reason why every overseas star clamours for their inclusion in the auction list.
The fact that it is the only franchise league with India players involved due to BCCI restrictions, makes it all the more unique. Nothing comes anywhere close to the annual spectacle that is the IPL, with the league throwing up plenty of rags to riches stories while also unearthing some exciting young talents for the Indian team.
Pat Cummins, the Australian pace ace, is set to earn £1.7 million in the upcoming edition and he will still not be the top earner in the league!
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