Of cash and loyalty: Former WICB president embraces franchise cricket

Captain Peter Short
Captain Peter Short

With several cricketers set to line-up for franchises in the imminent Champions League Twenty20 Tournament in India rather than the clubs or country of their origin, former president of the West Indies Cricket Board Captain Peter Short says players should not be considered disloyal if they took the non-national option.

Twenty-two West Indians are set to play in the lucrative tournament that starts on September 17 with the Trinidad and Tobago national team qualified for the competition and Kemar Roach (Brisbane Heat), Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians), Dwayne Bravo and Jason Holder (Chennai Super Kings), Darren Sammy (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and Kevon Cooper (Rajasthan Royals) also to feature.

Bravo, Pollard and Cooper are among 12 players who are eligible to play for more than one team and have opted to play for franchises other than their home or state outfits. The other nine players are Nathan Coulter-Nile, Faf du Plessis, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, Thisara Perera, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Watson. Among these only Sri Lankan Sangakkara has opted not to represent an Indian Premier League team (Sunrisers Hyderabad) but has chosen to play for his home team Kandurata Maroons which still has to qualify for the main section of the tournament.

Short told Barbados TODAY such decisions could evoke emotional responses from cricket fans but they had to appreciate the concept of franchise cricket even in circumstances where players had the option of playing in a competition with their home team or the franchise to which they were contracted.

“The franchises are the ones pumping the large sums of money into the cricket and one has to appreciate that. They provide cricketers the monetary rewards and security that often their home team might be incapable of doing,” he said, stressing that this was an age where the franchise system had to be understood and embraced.

Short said he didn’t believe that it was a question of players turning their backs on the country or club that nurtured them. He said often there was an agreement among players, franchises and national team or country to the mutual understanding of everyone involved.

Trinidadians Dwayne Bravo (left) and Kieron Pollard among those opting not to play for their home country..
Trinidadians Dwayne Bravo (left) and Kieron Pollard among those opting not to play for their home country..

The question of players’ loyalty has been a contentious subject. The Trinidad and Tobago team, which has previously made the final of the Champions League Tournament, is considerably weakened by Bravo, Pollard and Cooper opting to play for IPL teams. However, the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board will benefit monetarily from their decision. According to CLT20 regulations Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings must each pay the Trinidad and Tobago cricket authorities US$150 000 compensation for the players’ decision.

CLT20 Governing Council member and director of legal and business affairs, Dean Kino, said: “Players who were named by more than one team were asked to select which team they were going to play for. Teams were then allowed to replace any player that withdrew from their squad and elected to play for another side. CLT20 regulations state that when a player elects to play for his ‘away’ team, that team must pay the ‘home’ team $150,000 compensation per player. A ‘home’ team is classified as a team from the country a player is eligible to represent in international cricket.”

In Sri Lanka Sangakkara criticised cricket officials there for questioning his loyalty to the country. His comments came after SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga had said that the board would prefer Kandurata’s IPL players played “for their country” in the CLT20 League. However, Sangakkara said no SLC official had asked him to play for the Lankan team until a meeting last Tuesday and statements made by them put him in a bad picture.

“The first time I heard directly that they wanted me to play for Kandurata was on Tuesday – the same day I arrived from the West Indies. I was told that they expected me to play for Kandurata, and I said if that’s the case, and if they are informing me at such a late hour, I’m happy for them to speak to the Sunrisers Hyderabad franchise to see if that could be done in a respectful and amicable way, and I would await the outcome. At the same time, SLC failed to mediate a workable solution, so I had to make a decision on my own. I decided to stay with Kandurata and absorb the considerable financial loss.”

Like Sangakkara, had Pollard, Cooper and Bravo decided to play for Trinidad and Tobago, it would have been to their substantial financial loss. The former Sri Lankan captain has forfeited US$140 000 from his Sunrisers Hyderabad salary by opting to play for his Sri Lankan team.

Short told Barbados TODAY he had been following the evolution of Twenty20 cricket and welcomed the benefits it was bringing to players.

“When I was president of the WICB I never envisaged that cricket would evolve to this stage and I believe there is a place for this type of franchise cricket in the scheme of things,” he noted, adding that anything that benefited players monetarily should be accepted. (WG)

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