Twenty20 cricket has exploded around the world and players are risking the longevity of their careers for a larger bank balance.
Since the creation of Twenty20 cricket in 2003, the shorter form of the game has evolved into an all-consuming beast. Burnout has become an issue as players from around the world chase lucrative contracts rather than pursuing international test careers for their countries.
There are now 15 domestic T20 competitions around the world; the recently formed Champions League Twenty20 brings the top teams together to compete against each other.
International players are setting aside ties with their domestic teams to chase bigger money abroad. David Warner, who will play for the Sydney Sixers in this summer’s Big Bash league in Australia, has been playing against the Sixers and the Perth Scorchers in the Champions League because he is committed to the Delhi Daredevils.
Warner is not the only Aussie playing against one of his own teams. Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger and Michael Hussey, among others, have decided to accept the more lucrative contracts of foreign teams rather than play for their domestic teams.
Both Hussey and Warner will play for Australia in this summer’s test series. Once commitments with their T20 teams finish they will return to Australia for a gruelling five months of cricket.
The shorter form continues to grow globally, but with the added workload of the T20 competitions, players’ calendars are filling up fast, and injuries are becoming more common as players have little time to rest between commitments.
Cricket Australia has implemented a rotation system to help protect their young fast bowlers from an excessive workload in this summer’s Australian test series. Youngsters such as Pat Cummins have suffered repeated breakdowns as they struggle to meet the demands of a seemingly interminable season.
Australians aren’t the only ones chasing the big bucks. International stars such as South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs and the West Indian superstar Chris Gayle have been lured to play for Australian domestic T20 teams. Both Gayle and Gibbs play for their countries at the highest level in all three forms of cricket, T20, one-day matches and test cricket. They also juggle other T20 competitions in-between their international commitments.
One can argue that with the big money attracting players to take on excessive workloads, cricketers will burn out much faster than before. But perhaps, with their pockets suitably padded, players can now afford not to worry about long-term careers. – Patrick Higgins