It was 2008 when a T20 league in India took the world by storm and changed the dynamics of cricket all over. It has been 5 years since and sixth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is beckoning. The International Cricket Council (ICC) now though, seems to have softened its stance regarding the booming T20 leagues all over the world.
It is often forgotten that Twenty20 begin in England in 2003. It then spread out to Pakistan, Australia and West Indies before coming to India in the form of a rebel league, the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Now there are leagues in New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South Africa and even Bangladesh.
The impact that IPL had though, was unprecedented. Players, struck by money power, were willing to shun national colours for T20 moolah. The saga continues and there are professional T20 players like Alfonso Thomas, Dirk Nannes who play in T20 leagues all over.
In their recently concluded meeting, the ICC Board considered the report of the ICC Chief Executives' Committee working group, which includes Sundar Raman (Board of Control for Cricket in India), James Sutherland (Cricket Australia), David Collier (England and Wales Cricket Board) and David White (New Zealand Cricket), and agreed that domestic T20 leagues can add to the game as a whole and that further deliberations should be aimed at "the growth and sustainability of international cricket" by "attaining co-existence between domestic T20 leagues and the international game".
David Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive, said: "Domestic Twenty20 leagues have provided so many opportunities for players and officials alike as well as entertaining large domestic crowds."
This raises a question though: "How is it possible?".
Only England-New Zealand and West Indies-Sri Lanka have series clashing with the IPL this time. But teams do prepare for upcoming important clashes just like the Ashes 2013. Mitchell Starc was one casualty who opted out of IPL 2013 auctions.
The Australian Big Bash clashes with sub-continent season where India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh gear up for home series while South Africa also plays at home during the period.
There is also the Bangladesh Premier League, Sri Lanka T20 league and the proposed Pakistan Super League now.
Then there is the counter-view which totally rejects the formula of giving the T20 format such space and value. The 'cricket traditionalists' believe that Tests are still the pinnacle of the game and should remain so.
The shortest format definitely brings in a lot of positives: money, opportunity for young players, confluence of different cultures, global recognition for the sport - among others. It now depends on the ICC and other think-tank to strike the right chords for a perfect balance between the shortest and longest format of the game.
Story first published on: Saturday, 02 February 2013 12:04 IST