The IPL auction was always been accompanied with unexpected surprises, with a few lesser-known players being offered enormous amount of money for their services over the span of two months. It is a big break for a player who could have never imagined that millionaires would be sitting around in a round table fighting against each other to hire him; a Cloud 9 moment for any aspiring cricketer.
But the big question arises whether the price is justified, especially when the cricketer does not play a huge amount of domestic cricket and instead waits for these two months to ply his trade. To sum up, the IPL is a flashy, eye-catching phenomenon, but has its own problems.
Comparing the two sets of Indian cricketers, we will be able to get a clearer picture of the inequality between the IPL players and uncapped Domestic Circuit players. An IPL player who features in the playing XI of a team is assured of a minimum 14 games and an extra three if the team gets to the final. In the domestic structure, a regular player toils under the hot sun for around 47 days if his team reaches the Ranji Trophy final. If he is eligible for the Duleep Trophy, he plays another 10-15 days of cricket, and an additional 5 days if he features in the Irani Trophy. Limited overs tournaments would approximately sum up to 15 days of action.
For the entire season, the player gets somewhere around 40 lakhs to 50 lakhs rupees.
T. Natarajan was probably the highlight of the 2017 IPL auction among the Indians, who was roped in by the Kings XI Punjab for a whopping 3 crores. For the record, the left-arm bowler has just played 9 Ranji Trophy matches and 5 T20 matches for Tamil Nadu, and rather unexpectedly he only played tennis ball cricket till he was 20.
“I am not thinking of the money right now. I never imagined getting so much money. I don’t even know how many zeroes are there in three crore,” said Natarajan, who is the son of a porter, and takes the responsibility of his four siblings from his cricket match fees.
Another pacer, Mohammed Siraj, was sold to the Sunrisers Hyderabad for 2.6 crores. He is 11 first class matches old. After being aware of the above two sales, an uncapped Indian player in the IPL will definitely feel left out and ill-treated. The abnormal amount offered to players who hardly play Domestic cricket will definitely raise the eyebrows of cricketers who play tournaments like Ranji Trophy all year round and still get a fraction of what an IPL player gets.
It should be recognised by everyone that the domestic players are the future of Indian cricket, and protecting their interest should be of utmost priority.
As a possible solution to this, the price ceiling on the IPL players should not be steeper than that of Indian domestic players. It may not be equality, but it may heal the scar to a satisfying extent. The Ranji trophy along and its companion domestic tournaments make the Indian circuit one of the most competitive around the globe, and the Board of Control for Cricket in India should take responsibility to maintain the standards.
Looking at the positive side, the BCCI has taken the initiative to telecast as many domestic matches as possible. On a similar parameter, the IPL is given enormous exposure, with the addition of chat shows, and broadcasted in several regional television channels.
One of the most unfortunate turn of events is when a player is offered loads of money, gets benched for most of the season, and then gets released in the next season by their franchise. Take the case of Pawan Negi, who was one of the biggest buys last year. Negi was paid 8.5 crores last season by the owners of the Delhi Daredevils but played only 8 matches for them. He did not have much of an impact in the games he featured in, scoring just 57 runs and picked up a lone wicket in the IPL campaign. Subsequently, he was released by the franchise and roped in by the Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier this year for 1 crore for the upcoming IPL season which gets underway soon.
The shortest format has already taken the world by storm in its short tenure, putting the longer two in the backseat. T20 matches attract the crowds these days, along with the glitz and glamour involved in the IPL makes the perfect formula for a hit show. But it should be taken care that amidst all these activities, domestic cricket should not be undermined. Even ODIs and Tests are in jeopardy due to the increased amount of popularity of the T20s.
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