Cricket is about to reach tipping point with power grab of alternative season

The latest announcement of T20 leagues in South Africa and the UAE is significant – franchise cricket is ready to take over

Barnay Roney

A worrying headline to a depressing, but accurate article in The Guardian by Barnay Ronay, made worse by the fact that I think he is wrong: in my view when people think a tipping point is round the corner it is usually a corner that you have already been round. We pretty much always react too late, read the signs in retrospective and hide under the covers for far too long.

Please read the article, but I will share a few key points:

  • The end always comes in a rush. Clues are ignored, risks taken, loyalties stretched. Nobody realises the game is up until the moment it is. 
  • Under the great Buttler shift, England’s white-ball captain will as of January 2023 be paid more by the owners of the Rajasthan Royals, who are also the owners of his South African Paarl franchise, than he is by the England cricket team. That conjoined franchise machine will be his primary employer, to the extent Buttler may soon be required to ask for a franchise notice of consent in order to leave and play a few games for England. 
  • A  power grab, a cash sluicing operation without checks or balances, or thought for what will or should remain. Until the South Africa news the big story had been the Emirates League, which will take a mind-boggling 12 overseas players into each of its six franchises, and where the top earners can make £450,000 a year for a month’s work: more than the Hundred, more than anything outside the IPL, two-thirds of an ECB central contract.
  • The CSA league is the gamechanger. Its headline players include Buttler, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali. And the CSA competition’s teams are owned by IPL franchise groups. This is what has been created here: an alternative season. This is in effect a seven-month IPL, taking in the Abu Dhabi T10 in November, the two new leagues and the IPL that runs from April to June.