The IPL…is awesome! It seriously is. Two months of competitive cricket, getting to watch the best players in the world play alongside each other and against each other. Each and every match gives the fans spectacles of batting and bowling and after ten years of the IPL every spring, it’s almost became a tradition to prepare, watch, and enjoy the IPL.
Coming from a Pakistani, one of the things I loved to see in the IPL the most was the Pakistani players playing alongside the Indian players. Seeing Shoaib Akhtar wearing the golden color of Kolkata and Shahid Afridi rocking it for Deccan was a special sight, but that all came to an end after 2010. Following the Mumbai attacks of 2008 (in which many Indian politicians blamed Pakistan for funding or operating the attack), the IPL franchises were advised to not draft Pakistani players for ‘security concerns’.
Fortunately, just because the IPL was ongoing didn’t mean that international cricket stopped. That is until this year. Earlier, the ICC announced that starting 2019-onward, no international matches will be held during the IPL. There’s pros and cons to this move, however, personally, it seems that the cons outweigh the pro.
Going with the pros first, this window gives most boards a lot of relief as they won’t have players who choose national duty over IPL. Countries like the West Indies, New Zealand, and others have seen players choose franchise contracts over playing for their country. With this window, certain teams won’t have to go into matches disadvantaged by losing good players to the IPL. Another good thing about this window is that it can give players from lower level teams, such as Afghanistan or Zimbabwe, more chances to play alongside and against excellent cricketers around the world, without international duty interfering.
The downsides, however, are numerous. The first one is for those players who aren’t able to secure an IPL contract, they won’t be able to fall back on international cricket to keep them in shape. Another downside is the weakening of countries’ domestic systems. As some foreign players will opt for IPL over domestic cricket, those players are missing out on competitive, homegrown cricket, and the domestic system itself will lack excellent quality players.
Another thing to mention is that the ICC is responsible for looking over ALL the cricket boards and trying to provide what’s best for them. If the ICC wants the IPL to have it’s own international window, then players from all countries should have the ability to play. This becomes a problem for the likes of Pakistani players who aren’t allowed to play in the IPL and won’t have international cricket to play for those two months. If the ICC wants the IPL to have it’s own window, the IPL either needs to allow players from all countries allowed to play or just not have a window at all.