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The race to sign players for Twenty20 cricket tournaments is heating up.

As previously reported, the new UAE ILT20 franchise competition is scheduled to launch in January 2023 and be completed in mid-February.

In the same time frame, four other T20 tournaments are scheduled: Australia’s Big Bash League, Bangladesh Super League, Pakistan Super League and the new Cricket South Africa T20 franchise league. This creates an unprecedented collision of franchise cricket with high rewards.

Each of the tournaments claims a key focus is developing local talent, but it’s the overseas players who will attract viewers. These top players come at a price and there aren’t enough of them.

Before a ball is bowled, ILT20 aims to be second best to the Indian Premier League. If money is the measure, then that’s a nice start. Rumors suggest top players could be offered $450,000, through a combination of salary and loyalty bonus.

This compares to the highest player earnings in the IPL of around $2 million per season, $250,000 in the BBL, $200,000 in the PSL and $160,000 in England’s Hundred competition.

Six teams will play in the ILT20, all owned by Indian franchises, three of which are existing IPL owners. Each team will have 18 players, of which 12 can be overseas, at least three must be UAE players, two from other associated countries and one under-23 player from the UAE. An 11-man squad will be allowed up to nine overseas players, plus one UAE and one associated player. The salaries offered fall into nine tiers, from $40,000 for a single player, to $10,000 for six players.

How the franchises will select and acquire their players is yet to be finalized. It is understood that the original intent was through a combination of an auction and a draft of up to five players. An overall team salary cap of around $2.5 million and a minimum of $1.5 million is believed to have been set. This may be subject to change, to provide flexibility for players to compete with other tournaments, particularly the South African company, where the franchises are also owned by Indians.

Here the player selection format, salary levels and data are expected to be finalised. There were rumors of $300,000 for the top players.

There is some difference between the two tournaments. Compared to the UAE, South Africa has a larger pool of high-quality domestic talent to draw from. This is reflected in the composition of the team and the team. There will be 10 South African players in each 17-man squad, with seven local players and four overseas players in each 11-man squad.

Seeing Indian franchises competing for a limited pool of world’s top cricketers to play in countries outside India, while India’s top cricketers are barred by their own board from playing in them, feels bizarre

This sentiment is amplified by the impact on some of these players’ participation in other tournaments, particularly the BBL. There is concern in Australia that some players may play the first half of the BBL and then move to either South Africa or the UAE.

If they are contracted to their national board, they need a no-objection certificate to be able to play in such tournaments. However, they may be part of an IPL franchise and if the owner is one of those who own a franchise in the UAE or South Africa, the players may be under some pressure to join that franchise, in instead of one in which the Indian franchisee. has no interest.

Freelance cricketers who are in the world are a new phenomenon and their numbers are likely to be increased by the demand of tournaments from the beginning of 2023. It will be tempting for contracted international cricketers who are nearing the end of their careers or who is in the race. fringes of their international team, to join this group.

In another sign of the times, Cricket South Africa has decided not to allow its team to play three one-day internationals in Australia in January 2023, so that the players are free to participate in the franchise’s domestic T20 tournament. This jeopardizes South Africa’s chances of automatically qualifying for the ODI World Cup 2023. It looks like international cricket is facing yet another tectonic shift.

In the 1960s, 60-, 50- and 40-over cricket shook up the game from a quiet format that attracted little interest outside traditionalists and was in poor financial shape. The shorter formats attracted spectators and sponsorships, including tobacco companies, but the players were not well paid.

It took a revolution in the form of Australian television mogul Kerry Packer to challenge and change the administrators of the cricket establishment in 1977. World Series Cricket attracted many of the world’s best cricketers and paid them well, which it led to a trickle-down effect for cricket. journeymen

In 1977, an English international cricketer expected to earn around $9,700 (£8,000) from a combination of appearances in England, an overseas winter tour and a county contract. A decade later, the potential has increased to $43,000, plus various endorsements and earnings bonuses. An average county professional could receive about $9,700 more at a successful county. At today’s values, they equate to about $122,000 and $30,000, respectively.

Today, the minimum salary for a county cricketer over the age of 24 is $29,000. Established professionals earn between $60,000 and $122,000, depending on status and age.

It is at the top levels where earnings have grown the fastest. England’s top players earn between $850,000 and $1.09 million a year. Those who play franchise cricket want more than double that amount. India’s top cricketers earn even more, mostly through substantial product endorsements.

In this environment, it is no wonder that players are so keen on the expansion of T20 franchises and that franchises are scrambling to provide opportunities to the limited pool of top players.

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