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

On Now: Chennai vs Punjab

On Now: Chennai vs Punjab

McCullum and Smith fifties set Chennai up for a massive score at Abu Dhabi. More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Trott to take 'immediate break' from cricket

Trott to take 'immediate break' from cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »