In what should serve as a frightening wake-up call for cricket administrators, Australian Test captain Pat Cummins has reportedly been targeted by cashed-up “mini-IPLs” offering seven-figure sums for cameo T20 appearances.
Earlier this week, The Daily Telegraph reported that the BCCI’s state associations are creating cashed-up “city-based leagues” funded by local marketing contracts and broadcast rights deals.
According to the News Corp report, Cummins has knocked back $1 million offers from several of the proposed Indian city-based T20 leagues.
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Speaking to AAP this week, Cummins emphasised that representing Australia remained his No. 1 priority, but warned players would continue being approached with high-paying opportunities in the future.
The 29-year-old paceman called on Cricket Australia to “be proactive” and ensure control is not lost to the franchise leagues.
“These opportunities are huge and they are popping up more and more often,” he said.
“I think it’s just us as a sport in Australia to make sure that we’ve got a really strong vision of what we want Australian cricket to look like for the next five, ten years.
“So now what’s next, because these things are going to keep popping up, so get on the front foot, be proactive.
“We all want to keep Australian cricket as number one, so how can we manage all these different competing interests to try and keep it that way?
“Playing for your country, international cricket at the moment is still number one for just about everyone, especially here in Australia, but we can’t just take that for granted.
“We’ve got to make sure that it remains that way and that’s in scheduling and in payment and in vision of just what it means to be an Aussie cricketer.
“So that’s all ahead of us, it’s exciting and we’ll work together to make sure that stays that way.”
The formation of privately-owned T20 leagues, such as South Africa’s SA20 and the United Arab Emirates’ ILT20, is already having a noticeable impact on cricket’s establishment.
Last month, New Zealand paceman Trent Boult was granted a release from his national contract so he could spend more time with his family and make himself available for high-paying domestic tournaments, such as the Big Bash League.
It was an unprecedented deal, a landmark moment for New Zealand Cricket, but Cummins predicted that other high-profile players would follow suit.
“I think realistically more and more people are going to go down that route for a variety of reasons, so I think we have to be conscious of that,” he told News Corp reporters at Kayo’s summer of cricket launch at the SCG last week.
“On some occasions, you want your Aussie players playing big tournaments even if it means missing a format.
“I think you’ll see a lot more flexibility around that over the years — how it exactly plays out, I don’t know.
“We all prioritise playing for Australia at the moment, it’s what we absolutely love doing, but realistically there are a lot of other opportunities out there which sometimes clash.”
Cummins, who missed Australia’s recent white-ball series against Zimbabwe and New Zealand in northern Queensland due to workload management, is expected to feature in Tuesday evening’s first T20 against India in Mohali.
It’s the first of nine matches Aaron Finch’s men will play before the T20 World Cup gets underway on home soil next month.
“I’m pretty keen to play quite a lot so that come the World Cup I feel like my game is in really good order,” Cummins told reporters on Sunday.
“That World Cup is the time we want to be peaking so I think we’ll find that balance between making sure we’re ready but not overcooked going to the start of the World Cup.
“I feel probably the best I have for a year or two, my body feels fresh, it feels like I’ve been able to have a mini pre-season.
“In terms of mindset, I feel really fresh and ready to get stuck in, so it was a great break, a couple of the niggles are fine.
“There will be ongoing management, some of those things just compound if you don’t get that little window, so they are all as good as they have been for a while.”
The first T20 between India and Australia gets underway at Inderjit Singh Bindra Stadium on Tuesday evening, with the first ball scheduled for 11.30pm AEST.