The landscape of Cricket has gone through a major shift in the last decade. The advent of IPL in 2008 followed by some other prominent leagues gave new opportunities to players and made cricket a more commercialized sport thus providing more financial incentives to cricketers in their limited playing career.
But in recent times we have seen that the league culture in cricket is growing tremendously with almost every country coming up with its leagues. It is now resulting in players from countries having weaker financial standing leaving their international commitments for playing in the new lucrative leagues.
The IPL's success paved the way for similar leagues worldwide, setting a new standard for cricketing entertainment and financial viability. With lucrative broadcasting deals and sponsorships, T20 leagues became a hotbed for players seeking both fame and fortune. The ILT20, in particular, has experienced a remarkable surge in participation, attracting players from various cricketing nations. This surge reached such heights that several players chose ILT20 commitments over playing in the Big Bash League playoffs.
Shoaib Akhtar has his say on the growing League Culture in Cricket
Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, serving as the brand ambassador for ILT20, acknowledges the inevitability of the T20 leagues' rise. He emphasizes the need for players to plan their year considering both national team and league schedules, posing challenges in managing their cricketing careers effectively.
Speaking to Hindustan Times Shoaib Akhtar said, “We will have to see the priorities. The players now have to plan their year according to their national team and the league schedules at the same time. It is difficult for the players to manage their careers because they are playing way too much T20 cricket.
But this is the way forward, right? And this is the way forward for broadcasters. Because they are demanding the shortest format of cricket. The interest of this generation has been reduced to one or two hours. As I said, the priorities have changed. But I'm glad that cricket is growing; I want this game to be global rather than a couple of regions.”
Shoaib Akhtar further gave his take on how he would have reacted to this era of fast and aggressive cricket as a ferocious fast bowler. He said, “If I was still playing? Thank god I'm not playing in this era! The way the batters insult bowlers these days, I wouldn't have tolerated that. Having said that, it would've been difficult. I used to get warm-up in four years. In a season, I used to bowl around 800-900 overs. I would've played around 20 leagues in a season. Even if I couldn't take wickets in this era, I would've sent at least 30-40 batters to hospitals.”