IPL teams and international stars in informal contract talks

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Players from a number of leading countries have been involved in talks with IPL franchises regarding the possibility of contracts that will allow them to play for the franchise in multiple competitions. While the discussions have been informal, they do raise the prospect that the main employers for leading players could ultimately be an IPL franchise, rather than a full-fledged board. The Time reported on Tuesday that six England players, including some internationals, have been approached by IPL franchise owners asking if they would be open to a deal where the franchise owner, rather than the board or county, is their main employer would be.

These talks have taken place not only in England, but also in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies, said Heath Mills, executive chairman of FICA, the global players’ body. “There have been informal conversations between some franchises and players about being available to play in multiple tournaments,” Mills told ESPNcricinfo. “That may take a different form for different players. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone in cricket that these conversations are happening and that players will have options like this in the future.

“Without going into the details of individual talks, they are about a player being available to play for a franchise in different T20 leagues. A franchise might have three or four teams globally, so maybe they want the player in multiple leagues – as opposed to just the IPL. It’s not necessarily about signing up a player to all leagues exclusively, but rather additional players for their IPL squad.”

Mills said he was not aware of anyone who had already signed with a franchise, but that FICA had “been aware of talks with a few players who would be available for multiple leagues for some time.”

The possibility of such a scenario has been floating around the game in an abstract sense for some time now and has gained momentum since the proliferation of IPL franchises such as Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders to new leagues in the UAE, South Africa and the US. . It has surfaced occasionally, such as with the lengthy bickering over David Warner’s contract situation last year, or with Trent Boult relinquishing his central contract. But confirmation by the head of the global players’ body that talks are taking place, even on an informal level, turns a possibility into a more tangible vision of the future.

It may not happen soon. Earlier this week on the BBC Test match special podcast, for example, ECB chief executive Rob Key said it won’t be that easy to pry away England’s biggest stars. “Test cricket is still the go-to for England players, I don’t see a point in the near future where any of the test players, especially the centrally signed players, will say ‘by the way, I’m going to America for three weeks’,” said Key. just don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s not a threat at the moment. It’s clearly different for cricketers with white balls.”

“You could look at creating windows where people agree not to play international cricket when a T20 competition is on. Everyone will have to compromise a bit, but it’s possible.”

Heath Mills, Executive Chairman of FICA

There will also be logistical hurdles to overcome, not the least of which is finding a way around the different design and auction processes in different leagues, as well as salary cap and retention rules. And Indian players, the game’s biggest draw, will not be available for any competition except the IPL, at least not with the BCCI’s current stance not to issue NOCs (No-Objection Certificates) to play in other competitions. But the issue is on the minds of managers, as evidenced by the blunt words of ECB CEO Richard Gould, who recently spoke of the need to better pay players for international appearances.

“We’re going to have to pay them more money,” Gould said. “That’s probably based on appearance money rather than the central contract element, because I think it gives us the most cost-effective way to deal with a given competitive tournament at that particular time.

“Our responsibility is to make sure we can compete in the global player market to make sure our players want to play for us, men and women, both for England and within our domestic leagues. But to do that, we have to make sure sure that we have the financial strength to keep them.

“A lot of times I think people will put a huge emphasis on playing for England, and we’re grateful to them for their loyalty. But we need to make sure we can pay the going rate, and now that we’re back from football, player markets are something which I know quite well, and we have to make sure we can compete in the global player market. And that global player market changes from month to month depending on what other competition there is.”

FICA has long advocated a rationalization of the cricket calendar, consistently arguing that the plethora of international bilateral cricket, ICC events and T20 competitions forces the best players to choose and prioritize where and when to play. Mills was critical of how members put together the Future Tours Program (FTP) – the most recent version of which was announced last year. “In the current situation, each board independently organizes its own bilateral program and its T20 competition. And everyone wants the best result for them alone. But they also all want the best players to improve their international and T20 products. But of course , the best players can’t be everywhere on the same day.

“While we have an arrangement where everyone does their own thing in terms of scheduling, we will be running this clash of T20 leagues and international cricket every month. The boards and the leagues are effectively cannibalizing themselves. That doesn’t make much sense to me .”

Mills provided a solution by creating three windows in a year for T20 competitions alone, to avoid direct clashes with international cricket.

“One of the options that boards have is to actually get together and agree to include T20 leagues in their bilateral program and within that process look at creating windows for T20 leagues. You could in April-May you could create a window for IPL, you could create another window for Southern Hemisphere T20 leagues in January and early February, you could create another window in September for an ICC event.

“You could try to create windows where people agree not to play international cricket when a T20 competition is on. Everyone will have to make a little compromise, but it is possible. Until that happens there will be a clash and players will are forced to make a choice. And unfortunately I’m not sure bilateral cricket will win.”

Nagraj Gollapudi is a news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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