According to The Age Saudi Arabia is considering establishing a T20 cricket tournament with the support of Indian Premier League (IPL) owners and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The proposed tournament would be one of the wealthiest T20 competitions worldwide due to the financial backing of Saudi businesses and IPL conglomerates.
Dicussion on over blockbuster league
Informal discussions between Saudi Arabian government representatives and IPL owners have been ongoing for the past year. The Asian nation is seeking to diversify its sports portfolio, and the proposed tournament is part of its strategy.
The report indicates that Indian cricketers, who are currently not allowed to compete in foreign T20 tournaments by the BCCI, may be given permission to participate in the Saudi Arabian tournament.
“If you look at other sports they’ve been involved in, cricket is something I imagine would be attractive to them,” ICC chair Greg Barclay told the publication.
“Given their advance into sport more generally, cricket would work quite well for Saudi Arabia.
“They’re pretty keen to invest in sport, and given their regional presence, cricket would seem a pretty obvious one to pursue.”
Will players prioritise domestic leagues?
All new domestic league need to be sanctioned by the ICC. Moreover, national boards must issue No Objection Certificates for players to participate in overseas T20 tournaments.
However, there is a growing concern that cricketers, especially those nearing the end of their careers, may prioritize high-paying T20 leagues over their international commitments.
Although cricket boards in England, India, and Australia are well-equipped to retain their top talent, this is not the case for other Test-playing nations.
Last year, New Zealand's Trent Boult and Martin Guptill were released from their national contracts in a significant agreement to concentrate on T20 franchise cricket. Boult played for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL while the Black Caps competed against Sri Lanka in a multi-format series at home.
Additionally, the inaugural ILT20 tournament in the United Arab Emirates this year drew Australian cricketers Chris Lynn, Marcus Stoinis, and Adam Zampa for cameo appearances.
Future of international cricket landscape
It is crucial for cricket boards to find a balance between supporting domestic cricket leagues and retaining their international players. While the ICC and its members have established guidelines for domestic leagues and overseas T20 tournaments, there is still a risk of players abandoning their international commitments.
This trend could have a detrimental effect on Test-playing nations, which are already struggling to retain their best talent. It is, therefore, essential to implement measures that encourage cricketers to prioritize international cricket while still allowing them to benefit from the lucrative T20 leagues.