India must ease grip on T20 leagues for the good of cricket: Sri Lanka legend

Former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva acknowledged that the IPL and other T20 leagues have benefited from cricket but urged India to allow star players to participate in foreign tournaments. The Indian Premier League has become the most popular domain of cricket, attracting top foreign talent such as England’s Jos Buttler and Australian David Warner for millions of dollars to play in the two-month high-octane jamboree. Known for her aggressive percussion during an illustrious career that included a World Cup triumph in 1996, Aravinda compared today’s T20 competitions to England’s domestic cricket in the second half of the last century, which attracted top players from around the world to learn their trade and gain experience.

“It’s like the county cricket of the time that gave the English cricketers the edge,” the 56-year-old, who played for England’s county of Kent in the 1990s, told AFP.

“The IPL, Big Bash or in England the Hundred and T20 Blitz, these are tournaments in which players can develop.”

The Indian Premier League started in 2008 and has spawned copycat tournaments around the world.

But it remains the biggest draw with a recent media rights auction valuing the IPL at a whopping $6.2 billion, or $15 million per game, making it bigger in those terms than the English Premier League, which is valued at $11 million per game.

Aravinda said India should allow smaller countries to share in the wealth generated to grow the game, raise global gaming standards and improve skill levels, which would ultimately benefit the IPL.

“If you have a dominant country, you can see from the IPL that they basically have a monopoly on the premier leagues because the Indian cricketers are not allowed to play in other leagues,” Aravinda said.

“So what’s likely to happen is that the default — if it continues to fall and if there’s no real competition — will at some point affect the global game.

The Rich Rewards of IPL

“Unless (India) finds a way to support the other countries and master them with the kind of support levels the game needs today, it’s negative for the cricket world.

“It is the responsibility of the (world governing body) ICC to make sure it is done in a way that these countries continue to develop, otherwise we don’t want a situation like Zimbabwe and South Africa, how they have descended from their standard of cricket .”

Sri Lankan players have individually reaped the benefits of the IPL. Leg spinner Wanindu Hasaranga was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for $1.42 million and was the second highest wicket taker in this year’s 10-team tournament.

Sri Lanka’s version, the LPL, was last played in 2021, with five teams led by Sri Lankan stars including Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella and Aravinda also praised Pakistan for putting on a great show with the Pakistan Super League Despite Lack of Publicity and Resources.

Sri Lanka are currently 1-0 behind Australia in a two-game Test series, but Aravinda was confident the hosts can fight back in the second game which starts Friday in Galle.

And he was grateful to Australia for touring the island country for a five-day one-day international series and two Tests, bringing joy to Sri Lankan people suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis.

“We definitely saw the passion, even with all these issues, we had some packed houses during the one-day series,” Aravinda said.

“(I am) grateful to the Australians who decided to come and bring a smile to the Sri Lankan people. It was wonderful. My sincere gratitude goes out to them.”

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