Ponting fears Twenty20 could kill off Test sides
Australian captain Ricky Ponting fears Twenty20 could kill off Test cricket in countries like New Zealand and the West Indies.
Ponting said the money on offer from the officially sanctioned Indian Premier League (IPL), made it difficult for some players to continue representing their countries.
“We cannot afford to lose teams such as New Zealand and the West Indies from international cricket, but my fear is that this could happen if the game cannot strike a balance between Tests and ODIs and the IPL’s riches,” Ponting wrote in the 2008 edition of his annual Captain’s Diary.
“Unless such a balance can be achieved, I could see some countries’ cricket teams declining in the way Zimbabwe’s sides have struggled over the past few years.”
Ponting could also have included Sri Lanka and Bangladesh among his concerns.
Since he wrote his diary, a Sri Lanka Test tour of England has been scrapped because it clashed with the 2009 IPL tournament and 14 Bangladeshis, seven of them on central contracts, defected to the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Neither is Pakistan immune, with last year’s ICC Test player of the year Mohammad Yousuf recently defecting to the ICL.
West Indies players face the extra lure of matches sponsored by Caribbean-based billionaire Allen Stanford, who recently put up $US20 million ($A29.9 million) for a single Twenty20 match between England and his Allstars.
“The best cricketers in the game want to keep representing their country, but if it’s going to be costing them (a lot of) money then there are tough decisions ahead – for players and also for administrators,” Ponting wrote.
Ponting cited the example of Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand keeper-batsman currently in Australia preparing for a two-Test series starting in Brisbane next week.
McCullum, a team-mate of Ponting’s in the IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders, had to leave this year’s competition after only a few games to join the Kiwi Test side in England.
“Purely from a monetary point of view, that was the last thing in the world he wanted to do, because the money he was earning in India was substantially more than he would get for playing in the UK.”
McCullum could earn $US700,000 ($A1.05 million) if he played the six-week IPL season, but remained loyal to his country, as did fellow IPL players Daniel Vettori, Ross Taylor and Jacob Oram (who is missing the Australian tour through injury).
New Zealand have, however, lost some of their best players since the IPL and ICL came along.
Scott Styris (IPL) has retired from Test cricket and former captain Stephen Fleming is now playing only IPL cricket.
Leading New Zealanders playing for the ICL, and therefore banned from international cricket, include Shane Bond, Craig McMillan, Darryl Tuffey and Lou Vincent.
Ponting said if the IPL is extended, players will resent the extra pressure to choose one form of the game over another.
“It will be tougher to retain the public’s interest and eventually the golden goose will be no more.”
The Australian captain, currently under fire for his tactics in the losing series in India, said he could not imagine giving up international cricket to play IPL but doubted that would be the case with everyone.
“If the IPL keeps growing … the next generation might opt for franchise over country.
“Everyone in the game should work towards ensuring that never happens.”© AAP 2013