Should the IPL make room for Associate nation players?

Cricket News: Should the IPL make more room for Association nation players? | How the IPL can help fuel the growth of Associate Nations

The T20 World Cup has thrown upon us the picture of several Associate countries fighting tooth and nail to create a mark in the biggest stages of them all of T20 cricket.

Back in 2019, these nations were prohibited from participating in the main edition of the Cricket World Cup. The move had evoked negative responses from the cricketing purists, primarily because it entirely took the possibility of an underdog side upsetting the heavyweights in such a big stage out of the equation.

However, the build up to the T20 World Cup has been much better in that respect, with several teams working their way up through the qualifying tournaments and carving an impact even in the Super 12 stage.

Namibia recorded their first ever victory in this stage of the T20 World Cup as they won their opening Super 12 game against Scotland last week. Both countries might not make it to the top-four but to get to compete against some of the best teams like India, New Zealand and Pakistan is an opportunity that they would be edging to take with both hands.

Associate nation players like Gerhard Erasmus of Namibia would benefit from an IPL experience.

Now, great results aren’t expected from Scotland or Namibia against the three aforementioned, clearly superior sides that they are pitted against in the group. Of course, they might still pull a rabbit out of the hat somehow but that could not become the norm, primarily because they have such little exposure against higher ranked teams.

Moreover, the superior sides can’t be expected to tour Associate cricketing nations regularly either, given the difficult schedules that they already deal with.

So, what’s the next best option to further the growth of these Associate nations?

How the IPL can help fuel the growth of Associate nations

The obvious answer would arguably be to initiate and gradually increase their presence and participation in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The IPL is the richest, biggest, most intensely competed and passionately followed T20 league in the world. Its popularity could perhaps even eclipse that of the ongoing T20 World Cup.

What better exposure could perhaps the top players of these Associate countries gain than rubbing shoulders with some of the best in the business in the finest T20 league in the world?

The IPL completed 14 seasons just a couple of weeks ago. Then, it went on to add two new franchises to the competition, which were bought for a collective sum of over Rs 12000 crore. The economics and the popularity of the league suggest that it is only going to grow and further develop from here onwards.

The BCCI maintains as powerful a grip over world cricket as ever. It is both influential and impactful, and carries the aura to bring about a real change in the cricketing world.

With the number of IPL teams expanding, the time is not far away when almost every major state of the country would have a franchise of its own.

The league and its pool of players will naturally rise with that and a strong case could be made for the Associate country players to be a part of these proceedings.

For that, the franchises could perhaps be mandated to keep a fixed quota of players in their squad who belong to these Associate countries.

These players might not start the tournament in the playing XI but could find a place with the increased set of matches, thus allowing these individuals to prove their mettle in the big stage against the best of opposition.

Playing the best players from elite cricketing nations in both the nets and then IPL matches will exponentially enhance their skillsets, thus translating into better results for their respective countries in the international circuit as well.

How the IPL benefits from this

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The IPL can benefit financially by adding players from Associate nations

From this, the IPL tends to gain on two fronts. Firstly, the league’s cash-rich nature tends to attract some criticism along with immense praise as well. It seems like certain detractors just cannot adjust and accept the monetary valuations of the league and its franchises.

Giving a platform to Associate countries will help the league gain some goodwill brownie points in front of the global audience, perhaps helping in increasing its acceptability across the globe as well.

Secondly, with players from fringe nations participating in the league, the IPL will be taken to shores and markets that it hasn’t breached in 14 years of its existence.

This will broaden the scope of advertisements that the league will attract and a large chunk of the global audience will thereby show an interest towards the sport that hasn’t perhaps been taken to them in the best possible manner yet.

The BCCI and the IPL have a major opportunity to put its significant clout into good use through these measures. Cricket is a beautiful sport, perhaps the best amongst the existing ones too.

But its global audience is too limited to its own liking. Increasing and thriving competition keeps fans attracted towards the game. Dominance of the big giants makes the sport predictable and mundane to the uninterested.

The only way to address this issue is by expanding the base of players, countries and people interested in the game, which will perhaps even open the gateway for cricket to be included in the much revered Olympic Games as well.

At the present moment, no one else could perhaps cultivate this idea and bring it to fruition better than the BCCI and the IPL!

Written by Tarkesh Jha. Follow Tarkesh on Twitter

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