Sri Lankan batting great Kumar Sangakkara is opposed to players choosing franchise leagues such as the IPL over international cricket but wants the ICC and member nations to strike a balance as both benefit the game.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) recently indicated that it may not stop its players from participating in the upcoming IPL even if the lucrative T20 event’s last matches clash with the Kiwis’ Test series opener in England, beginning June 2.
Sangakkara, who is the director of cricket at Rajasthan Royals, was on Friday asked about T20 leagues, the international game and the players who have to often make a difficult decision.
“It is pretty much understood that all contracts are below an international contract. An IPL contract is structured in a way that the players need a NOC from their home boards to allow them to participate,” Sangakkara said during a virtual press conference.
“I am sure that there is a balance that can be struck. It can never be an ideal balance or a perfect balance, but there is the ability to balance it out so that the home boards and players get benefit.”
He said confrontations between home boards and players participating in franchise leagues, often forcing them to retire, can leave international cricket a lot poorer.
“It’s a constant debate that will happen over what’s the ideal balance is. There has been debate in the past on whether there should be a window for the IPL in international cricket.
“It will be a conversation that will happen between the home boards and the IPL and within the home boards and maybe even with the ICC itself,” he said.
“It matters what your home board wants the players to do and it is the balance because it is critical to have your best international players available to play international cricket for as long as possible.
“We have seen that if there is a continuous confrontation between players and home boards about franchise tournaments like the IPL, we have seen players taking early retirements and that leaves international cricket lot poorer,” he added.
The IPL has helped the players to improve their skills, especially for the game’s shorter formats, according to Sangakkara, who has picked England, New Zealand and India as the biggest beneficiaries.
“At the same time, the IPL has allowed a stage for the players from all over the world to improve their shorter version skills, that can then be transferred into ODI and Test cricket.
“We have seen the performance of England in the shorter version of the game in the last few years. New Zealand, in terms of how their side has developed since the advent of IPL.
“Players participating in it, we have seen the benefits for India. In the recent past, the team that beat Australia in the final Test, you can name that benefit all down the line.
“In terms of preparation for a T20 World Cup, at this IPL, there are a lot of advantages that come with having your players play in it.”
Sangakkara, who has played 134 Tests and 404 ODIs during an illustrious career, was also asked about the debate surrounding the use of bouncer in competitive cricket. Clearly he wanted it to remain a part of the game.
“I am not really sure whether taking bouncer away from cricket is going to improve it as a spectacle or will it specially improve players’ safety. I think it’s been a critical part of the game — one that allows specific challenge between bowler and batsman,” he said.
“If you take it away, especially at the junior level, when a player progresses at the international level, he or she will have no idea how to deal with short-pitched bowling.
“It’s been a debate that has come about after discussions about player safety and bouncers and it has been reduced from unlimited to two per over in Tests and one per over in T20s,” he added.
According to Sangakkara, “the bumper (bouncer) adds a very exciting dynamics and “it gives the fast bowlers an option as well in terms of how he can make his other deliveries useful using a bumper”.