Be quiet and play T20 cricket

2013-02-18 07:15
Sport24 columnist Ant Sims (File)
The Indian Premier League (IPL) auction has always been a peculiar thing. Since its inception, players have been sold off like cattle to the highest bidder, usually a bidder who knows very little about that specific player. It has left a rather bitter taste in many mouths.

This year was no different. In just a few hours $11.89 million was dished out on players who teams thought could somehow add to their strength, while squad lists were bulked up with big name international players as rather impressive domestic players remained unsold.

Some players fetched staggering sums of money. Australian player Glenn Maxwell fetched a staggering $1 million from the Mumbai Indians, on the same day he scored a one-ball duck in a ODI match against the West Indies.

Maxwell’s countryman Kane Richardson was bought for $700 000 while the injury-prone South African Chris Morris was picked up for $625 000.Those are all staggering sums of money for cricketers who were almost unknown or, if not unknown, at least somewhat irrelevant.

It’s no wonder, then, that some of South Africa’s players got a bit prickly about the issue just a few days after the auction.

Gulam “Boom Boom” Bodi asked the SA Cricketer’s Association: “mayb if we hav our t20 in nov n dec thn atleast we will b xposed, just like how aus have big bash  just b4 the auction to suit thm” (sic).

Maxwell and Bodi were both part of the Delhi Daredevils squad in last year's IPL. Maxwell was just 23 then, having played 14 List A games, averaging 25.44 and has picked up nine wickets at 37.55 in the format. He played just two matches in the tournament and was grossly ineffective in both those matches. Bodi didn't play at all.

Not having a paid holiday every year because those in charge of scouting are incompetent must suck and be rather frustrating, so grievances like Bodi’s are understandable.

Titans’ captain Henry Davids took a different route and he also tweeted to the South African Players’ Association: “What about starting our own t20 competition here like every other country in the world! our players are being hard done by!”

He later deleted the tweet. Whether he realised that South Africa does actually have a T20 competition of which the Titans are the current defending champions or whether he simply realised that he looked a bit like a sour puss, nobody knows.

But Davids has gotten his wish. In an energetic launch, complete with rompy-pompy dance music (using the term very loosely), the South African domestic competition was launched at the Waterfront in Cape Town on Tuesday night. A new sponsor was announced, a whole lot of gimmicks were hyped up and players were rolled out onto the stage for all to see as the advertisers tried their best to convince people who are spoilt for choice that the South African T20 domestic competition is where it’s at.

Do the players think that the timing of the competition could be better?

In short: No.

“I don’t think the timing makes much of a difference. At the end of the day, we don’t have much of a say anyway. We have to put personal pride and personal ambitions to play in the IPL aside. If guys are good enough, they will get recognised and I don’t think the timing plays a part,” Daryn Smit, skipper of the Dolphins, told Sport24.

Whether the IPL does actually recognise talent on domestic level is debatable, though. Richard Levi was the third-highest run-scorer in the 2011/12 season, but it wasn’t until he hit 117* on a postage stamp in New Zealand when he was snapped up, for a whole lot more than his base price.

The problem is that the IPL auction is lunacy. It doesn’t work on the moneyball principle and it instead gives bored businessmen something to do when they’re not out for a lunch, dinner, launch or doing something else that’s equally mind-numbing.

Doing something which makes you stand out doesn’t always mean you’ll get noticed, though. Sometimes you just have to constantly be seen and Cobras’ skipper Justin Ontong says that, although playing T20 over the festive season will make a difference in crowds, it won’t really matter if the games aren’t being broadcast in India.

"I think it might make a small difference, but I don't think our games are being broadcast in India. The Big Bash is quite big and gets broadcast there, so I think that's part of the reason why you see more Australian players in the IPL.

"I'm sure for future reference Cricket South Africa could take that into account. The timing could be a bit better because it would be nice to play T20 cricket over the festive season to maybe try and draw some better crowds,” Ontong told Sport24.

Of course players have right to be irked and feel left out, but there’s much more to the South African hit and giggle than simply getting picked up by an IPL franchise.

T20 cricket is a good bit of fun and for most franchises across the world, the money it brings in is the lifeblood of their existence. 

Make it to the Champions League and there’s a healthy sum of cash to be pocketed. There’s a participation fee of $500 000, plus $200 000 if knocked out in the group stages, $500 000 for reaching the semi-finals and an eye-watering $1.3 million with a staggering $2.5 million for the winners. In South African currency, that’s not a half bad coup for passing Go. How much of that money the players actually see and where the rest of it actually goes is another matter entirely.

It might not quite be sitting around not doing very much while on holiday in India for about six weeks, but it’s a lot more than what was handed out before the sport became a commercialised profession.
Ant Sims is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

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