Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar tore apart England and Australia for accusing the Indian Premier League (IPL) of making a mockery of international cricket. The mounting criticism of the cash-rich tournament in England and Australia began after owners of several IPL sides purchased franchises in the T20 leagues of the UAE and South Africa, leaving both England and Australia concerned as these competitions are set to disrupt the schedule of England’s The Hundred and Australia’s Big Bash League. Sunil Gavaskar, however, minced no words in slamming England and Australia and told them to “look after their interest” and not worry about the happenings in cricket in India.
Sunil Gavaskar labeled England and Australia’s worries as “amusing” and claimed that the two countries began “squirming” as soon as the news of IPL owners’ investment in the leagues of South Africa and UAE came out.
“It’s been amusing to read that the Indian Premier League is once again seen as a disruptor of the cricketing calendar of other international teams. The moment the news about the South African T20 league and the UAE T20 league came out, the ‘old powers’ started squirming and got their apologists to have a go at the IPL. The IPL has got a 75-day window in the international calendar and that’s simply because, thankfully, there are some administrators who can read the tea leaves and know it’s better to let their players play in the cricket world’s richest league than hold them back with some international commitments. The England & Wales Cricket Board has created a window for its showpiece event The Hundred when the England team don’t play any international matches,” Sunil Gavaskar wrote in his column for Sportstar,
“The Australians, too, have scheduled their Big Bash when their contracted players will be available to play. But it’s worrying them that the UAE and the South African T20 leagues are scheduled around the same time and there’s the danger of some of their players opting to play there instead of the Big Bash,” the legendary cricketer added.
Sunil Gavaskar further stated that blaming the IPL was baseless because the Big Bash League was losing viewership for the last few years while England’s The Hundred was yet to gain traction like the Indian T20 tourney.
“The Big Bash has been losing popularity and viewership over the years. The limit on what the players can earn and the small change as prize money makes the bigger fees and bigger prize money at the UAE and South African leagues a more attractive proposition,” Sunil Gavaskar explained.
“The composition of the teams in these two new leagues is mainly the franchises that have teams in the IPL and hence the media in the ‘old powers’ has started blaming the IPL. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has nothing to do with these leagues but in all probability may allow some Indian players to play there. Of course, India will be playing international matches during this time and the cream of talent in Indian cricket will be playing for India and not in these leagues. Their franchises, though, may want them to play the odd game if there is a gap between the international matches,” the cricketer-turned-commentator elaborated.
“Some overseas former players have said that the Indian players should be allowed to play the Big Bash or the Hundred. Basically, they want their leagues to have more sponsorship etc. They are concerned about their cricket, which is totally understandable,” Sunil Gavaskar opined.
“But when Indian cricket looks to protect its cricket by ensuring that their players stay fresh for their matches and thus restricting them from playing overseas, that is not acceptable to the guys from the ‘old powers’.”
“They are talking only about the Indian players being made available for their country’s leagues but not the support staff or others who can also do a wonderful job as the cricketing world has found out over the last half dozen years or so. The IPL, for a while, ran the danger of being called the Australian league with not just the Aussie players dominating the composition of the teams but the coaches and support staff too. It’s never a two-way street for the ‘old powers’ of cricket,” he noted.
Sunil Gavaskar even argued that when India wasn’t a superpower in the world of cricket in the past, England and Australia weren’t inviting them for tours there regularly.
“Remember the times when India as a team was not attractive as far as gate money was concerned. The Indian teams would have a gap of years between tours to the ‘old powers’ shores. The first Indian team toured Australia in 1947/8. Guess when was the next time the Indian team went there? It was 1967/8. Yes, sir, a good 20 years between the two tours. The next was in 1977/8. England, too, had the Indian team coming down after long gaps – 1936, then 1946. The World War II from 1939 to 1945 could have played a part in this. India visited England again in 1952, 1959, and then 1967.”
“It was only after the other cricketing boards finally realized that being invited to the MCC President’s box was not helping them promote their cricket and new administrators, who didn’t have any inferiority complexes, came in that India started getting tours at regular four- year intervals. Now these same old powers want India to come to their shores every year because they have understood that the Indian team brings in more moolah than even when they play against each other,” Gavaskar argued.
“So, by all means, look after your cricket interests but hey please don’t interfere in ours and tell us what to do. We will look after our interests and do it better than what you tell us to do,” Sunil Gavaskar concluded.