Dear Editor: The problem with the IPL; and how it affects teams like the West Indies

“[…] When the IPL started back in 2008, it was a six-week tournament. The BCCI has since increased the official time span to eight weeks, but the true time is closer to 10 to 12 weeks.

“[…] Despite all of that, the compensation package for the player’s home board has remained unchanged at 10% of the player’s contract package. There is no way that 10% can adequately compensate a board for 10-12 weeks of loss of revenue…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the impact of the IPL on Test cricket nations—and, in particular, the West Indies—was submitted to Wired868 by Choy Aping from Trinidad:

West Indies pacer Shamar Joseph poses in LSG (Lucknow Super Giants) colours for the 2024 IPL season.

Has anybody thought about how the BCCI and the ICC (yes, they are two different bodies in case you were wondering) are negatively affecting international cricket?

More to the point for us these days is how the IPL is affecting West Indies cricket.

When the IPL started back in 2008, it was a six-week tournament. The BCCI has since increased the official time span to eight weeks, but the true time is closer to 10 to 12 weeks—as players are asked to join their squads for training two weeks prior to the start of the tournament.

West Indies batsman Shimron Hetmyer on the go for the Rajasthan Royals during the 2022 IPL season.
(Copyright IPL)

After 10 weeks of non-stop cricket, players need and should get a week or two for recuperation. Of course, there are also those who pick up injuries during the tournament and are sidelined for more than two weeks.

Despite all of that, the compensation package for the player’s home board has remained unchanged at 10% of the player’s contract package. There is no way that 10% can adequately compensate a board for 10-12 weeks of loss of revenue.

It is clear that the BCCI/ICC needs to do more to compensate boards for the total revenue lost through player unavailability during the entire tournament.

Lucknow Super Giants pacer Jason Holder (right) prepares to bowl against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL action on 4 April 2022.
(Copyright Rahul Gulati / Sportzpics for IPL)

Because the IPL falls in the middle of our home season—we unselfishly agreed to give up the space, remember?—we are among those hardest hit. And to make matters worse, the current structure for distributing cricket income means that boards only pocket revenue from home matches.

That’s bad enough already. But in 2024, things got worse. This year, the BCCI only announced the IPL schedule for the first two weeks of the tournament as India’s general elections were due to be held from 19 April to 1 June.

I suspect that they don’t want the tournament to clash with the elections. But I am not sure if IPL cricket is being completely halted during the election and only restarting once it is over or if they are going to continue playing during the election but only on some days.

Nita Ambani is the co-owner of Reliance Industries and IPL team, Mumbai Indians.

Whatever the truth, that will unfortunately only further prolong the tournament, causing a greater impact on the availability of players for international teams.

For me, what is weird is that there is no discussion of these issues anywhere in the media as far as I can tell. I suppose it’s understandable that the players aren’t raising it as an issue—their money running, right? But the boards? CWI? How do we explain their silence?

Because there is another issue for all the teams wrestling with the problem of keeping their heads afloat in the Test arena: IPL success is creating a whole heap of players who are only interested in playing T20 cricket.

Nicholas Pooran lets loose for Sunrisers Hyderabad during the 2022 IPL competition.
(Copyright IPL)

There are easy ways to try to fix the money problem:

  1. The boards’ percentage of the players’ compensation package can be increased from 10% to 15%.
  2. The visiting team’s percentage of the total revenue for all series played in India should be guaranteed at a minimum 10%.
  3. The BCCI’s revenue for all away series should not exceed the BCCI’s expenditure on the series.
BCCI president Roger Binny.

Of course, BCCI/ICC will never agree to any of that. But isn’t the real problem in international cricket that there is one rule for the BCCI and another for almost everybody else?

And that nobody else—even the disadvantaged CWI, which has so much to lose—is prepared to start a free and frank discussion about it?

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