Gargi Raut ∙ Aug 10 2022, 3:20 PM | 3 Min Read

The dilemma of domestic franchise leagues: Trent Boult contract release, money and more

image-l6ndc9oiIndian Premier League

Domestic franchises: Opportunity or impending doom?

Moving into the 21st century, there has been a rapid evolution in the way cricket is played, displayed and perceived. What was once a long format, five day game of the greats, is now a much more aggressive, high-speed, expeditious and glamorous display of skill. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to survive in new-age cricket. The way cricketers are stepping into the light, with stone-cold mindsets, wanting to cement their place in a sphere where talent is readily available and players are highly replaceable, there is always someone who is better, quicker, or nicer. It's not an easy job. 

image-l6ne03gcIndian Premier League 2022 closing ceremony

This is where domestic franchise leagues come into the picture, this big glamorous world of cricket and money. And what’s not to like? Players are given a path to climb, a spotlight to shine and a bag load of money. They get to rub shoulders with the greats and the greats get to rub shoulders with stardom and luxury. 

Alas, these franchise leagues have a downside. Lately, there has been an increase in the manufacturing of single-format players (T20s to be specific), cricketers are moving or let’s say shying away from playing longer formats of the game. 

There’s a newfound preference for playing domestic franchise leagues over international cricket, though it is understandable. The difference in pay is colossal, you only have to play for a few months while still living a comfortable life (financially). 

The curious case of Trent Boult 

image-l6nde1ysTrent Boult in action

New Zealand’s centrally contracted player Trent Boult had been having several conversations with New Zealand Cricket (NZC), requesting to be released from his contract. Boult cited that he simply wants to focus on his growing family. 

“I still have a big desire to represent my country and feel I have the skills to deliver at international level. However, I respect the fact that not having a national contract will affect my chances of selection.” 

Don’t you worry Boulty, franchise leagues have your back. All humour aside, let’s talk about the huge opportunity that franchise cricket is giving cricketers. Players can finally relax and focus on their lives as any normal human being. 

Mind you, not every board pays their cricketers as heavily as the cash-rich BCCI. Not every cricketer is a celebrity, some are barely getting by and franchise cricket is pushing them forward while also giving them the opportunity to display their skills at a prestigious stage.

Sunil Gavaskar on putting a limit on uncapped players 

image-l6ne79pkIPL auction

Before an Indian Premier League mega auction Gavaskar went on to express that money is spoiling young cricketers and he especially seemed to have a problem with uncapped players. He opined that they should have a limit of INR 1cr in the auction because god forbid a poor young cricketer earns his worth. 

An odd problem to have isn’t it? 

Ponder on the pitch

There has been an increase in cases like Boult’s. To name a few, Lizelle Lee, Quinton de Kock, basically every other player who retires internationally but continues playing franchise cricket. 

Let us ponder, why is it that when players need a break from cricket they choose not to play for their country instead of giving up on the million other franchise leagues? Does the answer lie in the word million? Is franchise cricket simply offering what international cricket never can? A stable income? somewhat guaranteed place in the teams? Comfort? 

Is it time for the ICC to intervene and put a limit on the amount of franchise cricket a player can indulge in (while also putting a limit on how much a player is earning)? Or should we let corporations monopolise cricket and create these gigantic franchise spheres where everyone makes money?