Cricket: Millionaires v part-timers shows T20 divide

At the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, Indian Premier League millionaires will rub shoulders with struggling part-timers, illustrating the wealth gap opened up by cricket's most contentious format.

On one hand will be wealthy Twenty20 stars such as India's Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir, and West Indian Chris Gayle, who have amassed considerable personal fortunes in the glitzy IPL.

At the other end of the scale are part-time players from Ireland and the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and especially Afghanistan, whose captain Nawroz Mangal learned the game in a refugee camp.

India's first match, against Afghanistan in Colombo on Wednesday, raises the prospect of an idolised, multi-millionaire team sharing facilities with players who grew up using home-made bats and balls.

It's only nine years since 20-over cricket was first introduced in England, in a bid to attract more fans. The innovation was initially frowned upon by most countries, including the game's economic powerhouse, India.

But India's unexpected victory in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 ushered in a sea-change that saw the launch of the flashy IPL a year later.

The IPL, where the world's top players turn out for franchises owned by rich businessmen and Bollywood actors, transformed Twenty20 cricket into a widely watched, and lucrative, spectacle.

Leading players have cashed in -- but the runaway success of the IPL and copy-cat Twenty20 leagues has also raised fears over the primacy of international cricket, especially the five-day Test matches.

Unlike football, where FIFA designates international breaks to allow players to take leave of their clubs and represent their countries, cricketers are faced with a dilemma.

Indian stars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni are spared the choice since the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) does not schedule internationals during the IPL.

But players from other countries, such as out-of-favour England batsman Kevin Pietersen, man of the tournament at the last World Twenty20, do not have the same luxury.

Pietersen had problems with the England cricket board when he tried to bargain to be allowed to play a full IPL season instead of returning home early for international duties.

"I think it's fair to say that his issues over being available for the entire IPL have changed his attitude," said coach Andy Flower of Pietersen, who is out of the England squad after repeated run-ins with management.

Explosive opener Chris Gayle missed an entire year for the West Indies due to a conflict with his home board, but continued to rake in millions from the IPL and similar leagues.

Some boards such as New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, unable to pay their players top dollar, have tried to restrict international commitments during the IPL.

The International Cricket Council argues that if it provided a window for the IPL, it would have to accommodate other domestic leagues as well.

For elite cricketers such as India's Gambhir, there's no question that international competition comes first.

The opener justified his $2.4 million a year price tag for the Kolkata Knight Riders by leading the franchise to its maiden IPL title this season.

But the left-hander's most cherished memories remain his two major triumphs for India: the 2007 World Twenty20 and the 50-over World Cup in 2011.

"Playing and doing well for your country is the ultimate high," said Gambhir. "It will be hard to think of anything bigger than the world cup wins."

Gambhir said he was unconcerned that while his IPL winning team earned $2 million for its efforts, the World Twenty20 champions in Sri Lanka will get half that amount.

"You can earn all the money you want, but the thrill and passion of winning for India can never be replicated," he said.

Club loyalties will also take a back seat during the 12-team, three-week tournament, which starts in Colombo on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene, who plays for the IPL's Delhi Daredevils with India's Virender Sehwag, said competition will be intense if they meet in the World Twenty20.

"One does not think of the IPL when playing for the country and I am sure Viru (Sehwag) also feels the same way," said Jaywardene. "A nation v nation contest is on a different level altogether."

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Atapattu tipped to coach Sri Lanka in England

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

Perfect Punjab trounce Hyderabad

IPL7, GAME 9—Maxwell (95, 43b), Balaji (4-13) set up 72-run win. More »

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Have the ECB played an unfair game?

Money talks, but it is in light of this ICC shakeup that the ECB's act of soliciting of another team's coach deteriorates from free-market aggression to… More »

Farbrace quits for England post

Farbrace quits for England post

He will assist Peter Moores who was unveiled as the new England coach on Saturday. More »