On July 13, South Africa announced that they were pulling out from the three-match men’s ODI series against Australia in January 2023 to ensure “long term sustainability of new T20 League”.
Former West Indies pacer-turned-commentator Ian Bishop feels that South Africa’s move to risk their 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup qualification for its upcoming T20 League has shown that the allegiance towards franchise cricket is becoming more important for a country.
“From an egalitarian point of view, you want the purity of international cricket to continue. But the economics of cricket is also an important factor. So, how do we marry the economics and the good for the good of the game? Franchise cricket is showing us that they need a window.”
“IPL needs a window, CPL needs its opportunity, Big Bash needs opportunities for its best players to bring in that revenue stream. But I can see down the road where there is going to be a clear demarcation for that period of the franchise like football, in international cricket. South Africa clearing their schedule is clearly showing that the commitment to franchise cricket is assuming significant importance on a country’s agenda,” said Bishop in an exclusive interview with IANS.
With the proliferation of T20 franchise leagues in the world and its bid to occupy a major chunk of an already-packed international cricket schedule, former India head coach Ravi Shastri had called for a reduction in the number of T20Is played while giving paramount importance to World Cups. Bishop, too, affirmed the same view.
“Maybe we could reduce some of that bilateral 50-over and 20-over tournaments, where I agree with Ravi. We could have to go that way and put the premium now on World Cups and maybe choose our teams from within those franchise events and put a smaller window to bond and prepare for World Cups.”
Despite the overwhelming threat from T20 Leagues, Bishop believes that efforts should be made to safeguard international cricket. “What I do know from a couple of coaches is they place a very high premium on having enough time together as a unit.”
“Let’s say, heading into the T20 World Cup, they want enough games at the international level to see how their players gel, see who works and bats where with that bonding.”
“So, I still feel there needs to be enough time. If you play well in a franchise, how does Pant bat with Virat Kohli? How does Rohit Sharma play with KL Rahul? You still need to find out about that synergy.”