Franchise-based T20 Leagues unlikely to enforce player restrictions: Report

It appears highly improbable that franchise-based Twenty20 leagues would impose restrictions on the number of players. Even if such a decision were to be made, it is more likely that it would be applied to future seasons rather than retroactively.

According to information obtained by Cricbuzz, any decision made at the Annual Conference of the International Cricket Council (ICC) next month in Durban is unlikely to have an effect on the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE and Major League Cricket (MLC) in the US. These tournaments have already received long-term operational approvals from the ICC, despite coming under scrutiny following player exodus incidents last year.

Advertisement

Concerns were raised regarding the high number of international players participating in these two leagues. The Indian Premier League allows for four overseas players, while the Major League Cricket permits six. The number of permitted overseas players in other leagues such as the Pakistan Super League (PSL), South African T20 (SA20), Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the Hundred, and the Big Bash League (BBL) is invariably four or three. These points were discussed at a recent working group meeting in London, formed by the ICC to provide recommendations on franchise league rules worldwide. Some full member boards expressed concerns and requisitioned the establishment of the working group.

Sources familiar with the meeting, which took place during the World Test Championship (WTC) final in London, revealed that discussions were held on the subject. These deliberations will be further addressed at the Chief Executives Committee (CEC) meeting in Durban next month. However, it is premature to suggest that the rules will be altered at this stage, and the argument that it is to protect Test cricket is seen as far-fetched.

Representatives from the West Indies and England, among others, advocated for limiting the number of international/full member players in the playing XI to four. There was also a suggestion to allocate 10 percent of each foreign player’s league fee to their national board.

The boards pushing for rule ratification primarily include Cricket West Indies (CWI), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and New Zealand Cricket (NZC). It is understandable as CWI has faced challenges with its players’ union in the past, with some players prioritizing franchise leagues over national duties. The ECB faced an unprecedented situation when player Jason Roy declined an Incremental Contract to participate in the MLC, while NZC has also dealt with players like Trent Boult declining central contracts.

However, it has been argued that these boards should handle their internal player issues without necessarily involving the ICC. This matter will be discussed at the upcoming meeting next month.

The working group’s suggestions would not have any impact on the IPL. Apart from allowing only four overseas players in the playing XI, the IPL previously ensured that 20 percent of foreign players’ fees were shared between the BCCI and the franchises’ respective boards. Recently, however, the franchises have been solely contributing to the foreign boards. Nevertheless, the BCCI maintained a firm stance, insisting that any rule changes should not hinder the global growth of the game, and more importantly, the ICC should not intervene in the domestic leagues of its member boards.

When it comes to the ILT20 and the MLC, the ICC might face a challenging dilemma. Since permissions have already been granted to these leagues, revoking consent could potentially lead to legal complications, something the ICC would prefer to avoid.