Ponder this for a moment. What if players in the IPL were only paid for the games that they actually played in? For example, Glenn Maxwell, the only million dollar man out of the most recent IPL auction, hasn’t played in either of Mumbai’s opening two games, but he’s still pocketed around $60,000 per game. Great if you’re Glenn Maxwell, slightly ridiculous if you’re the Mumbai Indians.
As I understand it (please, if I’m wrong let me know), if a player is available for the full tournament then they get their full swag of ‘hard-earned’ cash irrespective of how many games they do – or do not – play. In cases where a player is only available for a portion of the tournament due to conflicting commitments then they would only earn a portion of their potential pay packet – although such cases are almost completely non-existent now because because most countries are fitting their schedules around the sub-continental show. I’m not sure which scenario injured players would fall under, maybe that depends on the timing of their injury – if anyone can clear that up, let me know.
So, if the money wasn’t guaranteed, what effect would it have on the type of names that get signed up? Many would probably still try their luck in the hope of landing a few games at a good going rate, but other might deem that it just isn’t worth the bother. Why go sit on the sidelines when you could go play cricket somewhere else. It should go without saying that this mostly applies to the international signings.
Let’s take Steve Smith for example, he made a decent (albeit somewhat unexpected) return to the Test arena last month, and as a result is probably in line for a spot on the plane to the Ashes, so would he even bother signing up for the IPL if he knew he might spend 2 months sitting on the sidelines, and was only going to be paid for the games he plays in (he hasn’t played in either of Pune’s first two games), or would he perhaps opt to sign up for a county stint to focus on ‘proper’ first class cricket in English conditions to help his case for Ashes selection and get used to the English conditions. You’d hope he’d opt for the later, and you would think that given the lack of guaranteed IPL money its possible that he would at least consider it.
Phil Hughes is probably in the same boat, even though his domestic T20 form is good, there are still several ahead of him in the line at Mumbai (including the higher paid Maxwell, in theory ahead simply because he’s an all-rounder), so the chances of him playing more than one or two games is probably reasonably low. And after the recent Test series against India you probably wouldn’t find many who would disagree (except maybe the English) with the idea of him spending a little extra time in County cricket prior to the Ashes – after all, it was last years county season where Hughes rediscovered the form that led to his Australian recall.
Less guaranteed money might also “prevent” players picking the IPL over things that should be more important, like representing their country. The flow on from this could then be that countries might start scheduling international tours without fear that players may opt to take the IPL squillions instead of touring. This would then mean that international cricket could be spread over more evenly throughout the year rather than the current scenario where 2 months (1/6th) of the year is held at (hefty) ransom by one cricket board for their cashed-up domestic tournament.
Throwing money around is all well and good, the franchises are seemingly dripping with cash. Few would deny that the prospect of solid money for a few weeks work is clearly a big lure for many international players. However as a result of the IPL franchises having large squads, potentially 30+ players, more than half of them may never even set foot on the pitch – but they still get paid. In the case of the ‘unknown’ local Indian players – who presumably aren’t on anything remotely close to the numbers that the big names are earning – the amount of money being “thrown away” isn’t that great, but the big names are earning a lot. In Maxwell’s case he’s already made around $120,000 and hasn’t had to face nor bowl a single delivery. Not bad work if you can get it.
So I guess there are really two problems – the money, and the squad size. The squads are too large. It’s that simple. Yes, the tournament is quite long (some might say two months is way too long), yes they play a lot of games, but teams really do not need 33 players, and they sure as hell don’t need 11 international players. In reality I’m sure they could make do with 15 or 16 in total, but lets give them 20 as a compromise, that should be more than enough. And since only 4 internationals can play in any one game, there is no logical way to justify having 11 on the roster, 6 would be plenty.
That would leave them with 14 locals, 6 internationals. Perfectly sufficient. They’ve just saved a bucket load of cash that they can now either just save, or they could distribute amongst the locals who are probably underpaid in comparison to their – occasionally overrated – imported team mates. The teams would also free up a bunch of previously locked-down players, again I’m mainly referring to the internationals here, that can now go elsewhere – probably county cricket – where they might be more likely to get a game… just for less money, of course.