IPL keeping Proteas out of vital T20 World Cup warm-ups

Stand-in Proteas captain Rassie van der Dussen feels the West Indies tour will give some players valuable international experience. Photo: AFP

Stand-in Proteas captain Rassie van der Dussen feels the West Indies tour will give some players valuable international experience. Photo: AFP

Published May 24, 2024


SEVEN days remain until the first ball is bowled in the 2024 edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and US.

However, only one team – England – have assembled all their players in preparation for the showpiece event as other nations await the conclusion of the Indian Premier League to have access to their players.

Who would’ve thought that one tournament and one board, the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) would have the power to take precedence over a World Cup?

Franchises are and have always been a massive part of the survival of sports across all codes. But one can only wonder whether the IPL and the BCCI have been allowed too much power.

In football, the English Premier League – one of the most-followed leagues in the world – takes a back seat and creates a window for international friendly matches, let alone a whole World Cup.

In cricket, it is a totally different story as the BCCI blatantly planned a nine-week tournament knowing full well it would hinder other countries’ preparations for the World Cup, and possibly the quality of cricket that will be on display during the showpiece.

Teams need to come up with strategies and strengthen their bond before a World Cup. That is how it has always been, but the IPL has put a stop to all of that.

Currently, the Proteas are competing for a T20 series trophy against West Indies in Jamaica, but are without their best batter in Heinrich Klaasen, premier all-rounder Marco Jansen and captain Aiden Markram, to name a few.

All the mentioned players are tied up in the IPL, and there is no faulting them as the tournament is admittedly life-changing financially.

“That’s the challenge we’ve been dealt,” stand-in Proteas captain Rassie van der Dussen told the media ahead of last night’s Windies opener in Jamaica, in response to the absence of key Proteas players for the series due to the IPL.

“Ideally yes, you want to have the whole squad together and play some matches before (the World Cup), but we know the guys are at the IPL and are doing what they need to do there.

“The positive from that point of view is that they are playing cricket. They are in good touch, so they won’t be undercooked coming into this.

“As a greater squad, we’ve been playing together for a few years now.

“So, luckily for us, it won’t be a case of guys coming in not exactly knowing what the team dynamic is, the philosophy and what we want to try to achieve. From that point of view, it’s not a big problem.

“The opportunity here is for the guys (like) Ottneil Baartman and those types of guys who haven’t been here before to get a feel for what’s going on (in international cricket).

“They are world-class players in their own right, but if they can get in a few good performances, that would be great.”

Apart from the loss of appetite for longer formats of the game from the public and the players alike, no one could’ve predicted that the mother of all franchise T20 tournaments, the IPL, would have such a massive impact on the sport at large.

Like many other boards around the world, Cricket SA’s hands are tied because players need the IPL to make a living and secure a life after their playing careers.

In contrast, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have the financial muscle to pull their players out of the tournament since they are independent of the IPL and the BCCI.

The question is, couldn’t the IPL run for six weeks to allow national teams some time to properly prepare for the World Cup?

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