For a few dollars more: Non-IPL leagues battling for No 2 position | Cricket - Hindustan Times

For a few dollars more: Non-IPL leagues battling for No 2 position

Jun 22, 2022 10:14 PM IST

With the impending arrival of UAE and CSA T20 leagues, Big Bash raises the pitch offering bigger pay to attract marquee talent

Andre Russell is arguably the most destructive T20 batter on the planet. He is also one of the most travelled of freelance cricketers, having 412 List A T20 games against his name for 22 clubs around the world. For West Indies, Russell has only competed in 67 T20Is, 57 ODIs and the solitary Test he played in 2010.

Among all the IPL-inspired leagues, Big Bash was the first to start in 2014-15.(Getty) PREMIUM
Among all the IPL-inspired leagues, Big Bash was the first to start in 2014-15.(Getty)

It is T20 specialists like Russell who are in for a big pay rise as leagues around the world scurry to book the best talent to stay in the business. The Indian Premier League (IPL) has set the bar so high that its leadership position is unchallenged. With its latest round of media rights deal, expect player salaries to go up further from the existing team salary cap of 90 crore ($11.6 million).

For the other leagues, it’s a battle for survival with two new properties—UAE T20 and SA T20 set to for launch next year. Cricket Australia’s Big Bash League reacted on Wednesday by introducing overseas player drafts; the highest paid in platinum category are set to get AUS$ 3,40,000 (US$ 2,35,000). While the team salary cap remains at AUS$ 1.9 million (US$ 1.3 million), a sizeable portion of the most-paid players’ purse will be filled by CA.

Among all the IPL-inspired leagues, Big Bash was the first to start in 2014-15. But it was never ambitious enough to break the bank for player salaries. It could not even ensure an exclusive playing window for Australia’s marquee cricketers. Its 7-week schedule (December first week to January last week) meant a sought-after power-hitter like Russell only did piecemeal stints, like the one for Melbourne Stars, last year.

Russell will again have plenty of options. The inaugural UAE T20 league is set to be played over five weeks, starting January 6. The 34-match tournament is reportedly promising its highest paid players tax free salaries in the range of US$3,00,000.

Though they are yet to make their pay package public, the plan is for a team to have a total player purse of US$ 2 million. In comparison, KL Rahul’s pay alone was US$ 2.1 million, but it would make the UAE T20 the second highest paying league in the world.

The UAE league’s other trump card is ownership stakes from three IPL franchises—Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and GMR Group, co-owners of Delhi Capitals. With Russell being a KKR product, there is little doubt where his priorities may lie.

Also competing for dates and talent in the same January window is Cricket South Africa’s T2O league. Pholetsi Moseki, CSA CEO calls the league “fresh and invigorating, which offers the opportunity for private investment into the franchises”.

The SA board claims to have received interest from many potential local and international investors. But the jury is out on whether they can offer value to its investors with competing leagues out to woo top players.

CSA called it “premature” when asked about details on player salaries. At the announcement in April, the CSA league had declared, “The company (CSA-SuperSport joint venture) is looking at a very attractive player salary bill per team that will rival other leagues around the world outside of the IPL.” That’s again, good news for Russell and his ilk.

All this jostling for January dates could result in a postponement of Australia-South Africa ODI series Down Under. The International Cricket Council (ICC) are happy to sit on the fence and let market dynamics play out.

“Each member has the right to choose what they want to with their domestic competition as long as they sit with the ICC ascribed parameters. I don’t have any objection to any country looking to leverage in any way their domestic competition. It's actually very healthy for the sport,” ICC Chairman Greg Barclay said last month.

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    Rasesh Mandani loves a straight drive. He has been covering cricket, the governance and business side of sport for close to two decades. He writes and video blogs for HT.

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