Players’ representative Tony Irish has warned national cricketing bodies that they cannot take their players for granted in a world where finances are becoming increasingly restricted.
Irish, the South African head of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations spoke out after suggestions that a rebel organisation could be prepared to take on the establishment, possibly with a new global Twenty20 league.
Fairfax Media in Australia revealed last week that the Essel Group, which owns Asian media giant Zee Entertainment and television network Ten Sports, had registered companies in Australia, New Zealand and other international-playing countries. It was this group which previously ran the Indian Cricket League, which ended abruptly in 2009 with millions of dollars owed to more than 40 players including Australians, and was later the subject of corruption admissions by New Zealander Lou Vincent.
Nevertheless, Irish believes governing bodies should be ‘on their toes’ about a potential raid on their players, saying many will be tempted, despite the track record of the group.
‘There is always going to be interest from players in events, irrespective of what history has occurred,’ Irish told the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Obviously there will be some reticence from players based on what has happened but I don’t think you can discount the fact that players will be interested.’
He said that players from outside the so-called big three of world cricket – Australia, India and England – would be more easily persuaded by a rebel approach for financial reasons. West Indies players, for instance, had a bitter dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board over payments last year, prompting them to quit a tour of India, while Sri Lankan cricketers engaged in their own contract wrangle with their board in 2013.
‘International cricket and mainstream cricket have got to be on their toes to keep their players,’ he added. ‘Players have got opportunities in approved T20 leagues around the world at the moment and a lot of players I think are looking to just go that route. So whether this event happens or doesn’t happen I think the boards have got to be on their toes and realise there are other markets for players and they’ve got to try and make mainstream international cricket as attractive as possible.’