- By Callum Matthews
- BBC Sport
England players signing full-time contracts with teams owned by Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises is “coming”, says former England and IPL player Ravi Bopara.
A report in The Times this week said six English players had been approached about year-long deals, worth up to £5m.
IPL franchises own teams in India, the West Indies, South Africa, United Arab Emirates and a USA-based league.
“It is a real thing to start thinking about for the players.
“If they are offering long-term contracts, I’m talking three, four or five years, then it is a serious subject to start thinking about as a player.”
The IPL usually takes place between March and May, with the inaugural SA20 league and International League T20 in the UAE overlapping in January this year.
The CPL in the West Indies is due to take place from 16 August-24 September this year, with the first edition of the Major Cricket League scheduled for 13-30 July.
Seven of the 10 IPL franchises currently own teams in different leagues, with Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians represented in four leagues, meaning players can fill their year with franchise commitments.
England central contracts are currently awarded to both red-ball and white-ball players based on the likelihood of how often they will feature in the next 12 months, while recognising performances in the past year.
There are then increment contracts for one-format players or players close to breaking into the side.
“This was coming,” said Bopara, who played 24 games in the IPL between 2009 and 2015.
“It’s been a chat on the county circuit and around cricket that this was always going to happen.
“If you’re one of those players that is heading towards the end of your England career, if you’ve had a good one, and you’re thinking ‘hmmm, maybe I’ve only got two or three years left in the England side’ you might be thinking ‘actually this is a better option for me’.
“If you’re just starting out your England career then it is a serious dilemma. There is no guarantee you’ll play for five or 10 years for England.
“At least with this contract there are guarantees. That is going to be the difficult thing.”
Bopara, who played in 13 Tests and 158 white-ball games for England, explained how he once turned down an injury-replacement contract with Mumbai Indians because he was told by national selector Graham Gooch and head coach Andy Flower that he would not be considered for Test selection that summer if he went to the IPL instead of playing county cricket.
The all-rounder was then not selected by England anyway.
“It’s stuck with me from that day onwards that really it is just a business,” said Bopara.
“You can’t rely on other people to select you; you’re better off taking the contracts that are guaranteed.
“If you asked me now at 37-years-old, I would pick the IPL contract 100% without even thinking. I’d say ‘where’s the paper?’ I’d sign it right now.”
Bopara said “we’ve got to be prepared” for players signing the contracts, adding he “can see” franchise cricket being the priority and then international windows being created, similarly to football.
“You’re going to start getting egos,” said Bopara. “They’ll say ‘well, hang on, you’ve committed to franchise cricket so we won’t select you for England’.
“I don’t see why it has to be like that. You want to select the best England team to win the game.
“It doesn’t matter whether that person has committed to an IPL contract and said they don’t want an ECB contract.
“That is how it should be. That is the basics of selection, it is not about picking people who are loyal. How does that help you win a game of cricket? It doesn’t.
“Eventually cricket is going to follow the money, it always happens. It is just a matter of who is going to pay more in the end. That is where the people and sport will go.
“We’ve got to be prepared for that.”
News Source: https://www.bbc.com/sport/cricket/65431114.amp