Debate over IPL benefits as schedule clash looms
Pat Cummins says playing in the world's best T20 tournament has 'fast-tracked' his development as former skippers debate scheduling discussions between Australia and India
26 May 2020, 01:26 PM AEST
Paceman Mitchell Starc says he would have no issue if Cricket Australia (CA) allowed some of its biggest names to miss the early part of the Australian domestic season to play in a rescheduled Indian Premier League.
Starc opted out of this year's IPL but the likes of Pat Cummins, David Warner and Steve Smith have all signed lucrative deals to play in the tournament, which was originally slated to start in late March but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to multiple media reports, the gap left in the schedule in October and November by the anticipated postponement of the T20 World Cup may instead be filled by the IPL, which could result in a clash with the start of Australia's domestic competitions.
Australian players require clearance from CA in order to play in domestic leagues abroad, and they are normally granted it for the IPL because it falls during the international off-season.
Former Australia skipper Ian Chappell has urged CA to keep their players at home in domestic cricket this year instead of allowing them to play in India, while former CA board member Mark Taylor, another ex-skipper, acknowledged the governing body faces "a juggling act ... to keep India happy" given India's proposed tour of Australia later in the summer will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into the game.
The schedules for both the re-jigged IPL as well as Australia's domestic and international seasons are yet to be released, meaning the extent of any scheduling clash later this year is unknown.
Australia's leading players could potentially be cleared for the early part of the IPL before they're called home to play domestic first-class cricket in preparation for the Tests against India.
Last year, some Australian players were told to skip the final few weeks of the IPL in order to attend a training camp in Brisbane as part of their preparations for the one-day World Cup.
Starc says he would be happy to see his national teammates play IPL cricket during the early stages of the home domestic season – if it didn't impact their preparation for the international summer, and if CA cleared them to play.
"Do I have an issue with it? I don't think so," the left-armer said today. "They're pre-existing contracts.
"There's a lot of things that would have to go into that I assume ... Cricket Australia would have to clear those guys so if they're clear to go, I don't see a problem with it.
"They're pre-existing contracts and they would have been playing anyway. There's obviously a different hurdle of domestic cricket there. It'd be an interesting decision, not one I'd have to make, so I'll let them make their decisions."
Starc added that he would reconsider playing in the IPL this year if the change of schedule led to franchises being able to sign players not initially on their books.
"I'd consider it, I'd think about it," he said.
"Obviously it'd be right at the start of our domestic season as well so it'd be a fair bit to consider. But I don't currently have a contract, so I currently don't have to worry."
A total of 17 Australians have contracts for this year's IPL, including nine of CA's list of centrally contracted players, with the likes of Josh Hazlewood saying he aimed to use the tournament to press his claims for T20 World Cup selection.
Playing in the IPL would also expose Australia's players to white-ball cricket in India ahead of the proposed T20 World Cup there in 2021 and 50-over World Cup there in 2023.
Cricket Australia also stands to benefit financially from allowing players to participate in the IPL. The league pays a release fee of between 10 and 20 percent of the full value of the players' contracts to their home boards. The 17 Australians contracted for this year's IPL hold contracts worth a collective A$17.145 million, which could be worth up to A$3.4 million to Cricket Australia.
While acknowledging the significant money on offer to play in the tournament, paceman Pat Cummins told cricket.com.au last week the chance to play in the best T20 tournament in the world had multiple cricketing benefits as well.
"The reason it was so important for so many players this year was leading into a T20 World Cup (and) even if that does get moved, it's still going to be on at some stage," said Cummins, who was bought for a tournament record fee of $A3.1 million at last year's IPL auction.
"You look at what's the best opportunity for your cricket and what you're going to get the most out of.
"(In previous IPL stints) I was in a position where I was bowling the last couple of overs in a situation where it could either win or lose the match ... and that's just huge experience, it just really fast-tracked (me).
"Rahul Dravid was my coach, I've played with Jacques Kallis, Wasim Akram was a bowling coach at Kolkata. You get to spend some time with amazing cricketers and get different insights and at the same time be put in some high-pressure situations.
"Each time I've played, I've felt like I've learnt a lot in those six or seven weeks.
"Hopefully it all pieces together and we don't have too many clashes, but we'll have to wait and see."
Last week, Chappell said CA should prevent their leading players from playing in the IPL, adding "the top players are well paid ... their obligation should be to Australia."
Taylor said Chappell had "a very good point" but added: "It's going to be a juggling act firstly for the players but also for the boards because the Cricket Australia board will want to keep India happy".
"They may want to let the players go to India if the IPL goes ahead because they want India to come here this summer and play, which will be our biggest summer in terms of dollars," Taylor told Nine's Sports Sunday.
Australia's limited-overs vice-captain Alex Carey, who could play alongside the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Jason Roy and Shikhar Dhawan at the Ricky Ponting-coached Delhi Capitals in the IPL, said on Monday he would wait and see where the schedule lands.
"I'm hopeful the T20 World Cup goes ahead this year, because playing for Australia is the number one priority," he said.
"But if they push that back and the IPL goes ahead, it's probably the perfect situation.
"If I do get to go (to the IPL) I'm really looking forward to that opportunity. If I'm selected in a World Cup, I'm more than happy with that too."
Australians with 2020 IPL deals
Pat Cummins: $3.16m (Kolkata Knight Riders), Steve Smith: $2.3m (Rajasthan Royals)*, David Warner: $2.3m (Sunrisers Hyderabad) *, Glenn Maxwell: $2.19m (Kings XI Punjab), Nathan Coulter-Nile: $1.63m (Mumbai Indians), Marcus Stoinis: $980,000 (Delhi Capitals), Aaron Finch: $897,485 (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Kane Richardson: $816,000 (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Shane Watson: $775,000 (Chennai Super Kings) * , Alex Carey: $490,000 (Delhi Capitals), Mitch Marsh: $408,000 (Sunrisers Hyderabad), Josh Hazlewood: $408,000 (Chennai Super Kings), Chris Lynn: $408,000 (Mumbai Indians), Andrew Tye: $204,000 (Rajasthan Royals), Billy Stanlake: $97,000 (Sunrisers Hyderabad)*, Chris Green: $41,000 (Kolkata Knight Riders), Josh Philippe: $41,000 (Royal Challengers Bangalore)
* These players were bought at the 2018 IPL auction and have since been retained by their franchises