Star Aussies must not be banned from IPL

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert


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    Cricket Australia should be encouraging its finest players to take part in the Indian Premier League, not trying to convince them to abandon the world’s best T20 competition.

    The organisation’s patent desire to stop the country’s best cricketers from playing in the IPL is one of the controversies of the current contract dispute between CA and its players.

    CA has offered three-year contracts to several of Australia’s biggest stars on the proviso they do not play in the IPL during that contract period, according to a recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

    This issue has been overshadowed by threats of player strikes and of CA refusing to pay cricketers. As a quick summary of that situation, the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) recently declined a new pay offer from CA which would end the model of revenue-sharing.

    This model has been around for the best part of 20 years and sees the players get a cut of the income created by Australian cricket. CA have proposed to remove domestic players from this model, giving them fixed contracts instead, with international cricketers to share a $20 million bounty – $16 million going to the men and $4 million to the women.

    CA have stated that if the offer is not accepted then the players will receive no pay after June 30. In response, the players are threatening to strike.

    Amid all this I’m particularly fascinated, and shocked, by CA’s move to try to ban its gun players from the IPL. This is just the latest example of disrespect for Twenty20 cricket from CA, who have long treated it like a sideshow.

    While other nations were taking the format seriously, and improving steadily as a result, CA had its players miked-up while batting or bowling, engaged in inane banter with TV commentators rather than focusing solely on winning.

    CA wedged international Twenty20 series into the yearly schedule, seemingly as an afterthought, and continue to do so. Consider the fixturing debacle which occurred in the lead-up to last year’s marquee World T20 tournament.

    Just six weeks before the World T20 started, Australia hosted India for a three-match Twenty20 series. Such a series against a top opponent was crucial preparation, especially considering Australia had only played one solitary Twenty20 match in the previous 14 months.

    Think about that for a moment – CA cared so little about T20s that they allowed the national team to go more than a year while playing just a single game.

    Then they made a mockery of the series against India by scheduling an ODI series in New Zealand just three days after the Twenty20 contests. This meant that Australia had a second-string line-up for the last two of those Twenty20 matches, resulting in an embarrassing 3-0 loss to India who, by contrast, fielded their strongest possible XI in each fixture.

    To no one’s surprise, Australia promptly flopped in the World T20.

    Glenn Maxwell congratulates David Warner

    AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

    CA’s contempt for T20s is a key reason why Australia always have been an ordinary side, despite having enough talent to be a consistently elite team.

    Now CA want to hamstring the Australian team’s development further by effectively banning their best players from the IPL. The Fairfax report stated the three-year contracts with an IPL clause had been offered to national captain Steve Smith, gun opener David Warner, and quality quicks Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

    If these cricketers did not play IPL for the next three years then when, exactly, would they get to polish their T20 skills? The packed home summer schedule prevents these top cricketers taking part in the Big Bash League if they’re playing Tests and ODIs.

    Their T20 participation could be limited solely to international matches, which would leave them pretty rusty considering Australia has only played 16 T20Is in the past two-and-a-half years. Smith, Warner and Cummins have played almost that many IPL games in past six weeks.

    The IPL is crucial for the likes of Smith, Warner and Starc, who otherwise get to play very little T20 cricket. It is these superstars who can potentially lead Australia to the top of the Twenty20 rankings and to a first-ever World T20 win. So depriving them of games makes little sense.

    Given the comparatively limited physical demands of T20 cricket, none of them should be burned out by the time they finish with the IPL and return to international duty. If anything, Australia’s chances of winning next month’s Champions Trophy ODI tournament should be boosted by the fact Smith, Warner, Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Lynn, Moises Henriques and Adam Zampa have been in form ranging from good to great in the IPL.

    Those players should enter the tournament nicely warmed up, even if it is a different format. They’ll also have developed and/or honed T20-specific skills in India which will be of use when playing T20Is for Australia.

    It’s understandable the threats of player strikes and payments being ceased by CA have grabbed the headlines. But the IPL contract clause could have massive ramifications for the Australian Twenty20side as it tries to lift itself out of perennial mediocrity.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (53)

    • May 16th 2017 @ 6:16am
      Baz said | May 16th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      That does seem silly about outright ban of IPL as long as players like strac etc dont play when not fit as has been the case then let them play.

    • May 16th 2017 @ 7:21am
      qwetzen said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      Historical Observation:

      That period of history between 1950 and 1970 must’ve been the Golden Age of pretty much everything. England has left Europe to return to it, Russia has reverted to having a dictator, American has another flag-waving Nixon, Australia had Tony Abbott and John Howard trying to recreate Menziesland and now CA wants to reintroduce the serfdom of the Board of Control. It’s like how something in the atmosphere made the world sterile in ‘Children of Men’.

      • May 16th 2017 @ 11:04pm
        Felix said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

        Maybe people are just sick of being jerked around by corporate fat cats and at the same time told their opinions are wrong by man-bun toting hipster baristas?

    • May 16th 2017 @ 7:50am
      Alan said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      I dunno, much like World Series Cricket gave players like John Maclean an opportunity to have an entry in the “tests” column of Cricinfo this dispute might uncover few new faces?

      James Sutherland and Pat Howard might just turn out to be handy with the willow…

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Cadfael said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        The issue was how many of these players went on to become stars after WSC. Border, Hughes and to a lesser extent Hogg, Yallop and Wood. The others all lost out to the returning stars.

        • May 16th 2017 @ 9:39am
          Pope Paul VII said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

          Unlikely Roo Yardley and Mary Dymock did well post WSC.

          Bruce Laird and Hookesy probably adversely affected. Mick Malone also.

          Rob Langer and Wayne Prior forfeited their chance at test cricket.

          Did Tangles play a test post WSC?

          • Roar Guru

            May 16th 2017 @ 7:02pm
            Cadfael said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

            No his last test was in the 1977 Ashes tour.

            • May 16th 2017 @ 11:22pm
              Pope Paul VII said | May 16th 2017 @ 11:22pm | ! Report

              thanks Cad. We’ll always have Phil Carlson.

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 7:59am
      Rellum said | May 16th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      I don’t want to comment in detail on the pay dispute yet has I don’t have enough info but on a casual observation CA and Sutherland have handled the whole deplorably.

      On T20’s I think you miss understand CA’s attitude. They love T20’s and that is the focus for them leading into the future. Just not international T20’s. They are just doing what India do. To me it is the BBL they are looking at and making sure the best Aussie players are free to play in the BBL.

    • May 16th 2017 @ 8:07am
      Shaun said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      The problem now with CA trying to play the dictator is that players can make a lot more money by following the T20 circuit… if they try to restrict players, the players will just leave and get to travel the world and make a ton of money doing it.

      • Roar Guru

        May 16th 2017 @ 9:37am
        Adam said | May 16th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Rumour has it that what Faulkner is likely to do. Pack in the Aussie system and focus on T20. Without being offered a CA contract he is gone, possibly forever

    • Roar Guru

      May 16th 2017 @ 8:38am
      Ryan H said | May 16th 2017 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      Yep the ironic part is how it reflects the attitude of CA towards T20 cricket that they’ve held since it’s inception. Australia simply does not give it the attention some other international sides do. More to the point, what an absolute sham this debacle is turning out to be.