CPL boss highlights IPL’s potential threat to CWI
WHILE acknowledging the value of the Indian Premier League (IPL), chief executive officer (CEO) of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Pete Russell believes the tournament could pose a problem to other cricket-playing nations, including the West Indies.
The IPL, which began in 2008, is the world’s most lucrative and powerful cricket tournament, attracting major stars — including several from the Caribbean — and signing them to multimillion-dollar contracts. It’s also the only tournament to have an exclusive window in the ICC Future Tours Programme, which means no international tour or other franchise league can be played during that time.
The IPL is currently played out over two months but Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which governs cricket in India, announced in 2022 that they will extend the season from the current 74 matches to 94 in 2027.
Speaking to the Jamaica Observer, Russell, while understanding the global influence of Indian cricket, expressed concerns about its potential to overshadow other countries.
“It’s the mecca of cricket, it’s the powerhouse of cricket right now — and obviously BCCI have an extraordinary amount of power — but you have to be careful that you don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. At the minute they have a fantastic tournament, fantastic commercial base, but what you don’t want to do is then say: ‘We’re going to play this for nine months for the year,’ and think you’re going to get the same result because that’s not how it works,” he cautioned.
“Also, you have to remember they need all these other cricket-playing nations to be successful, so there’s no point in strangling Cricket West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, or these other guys because that’s how the international game evolves. India does pretty well out of what it gets already. I don’t see it; I think, if anything, they’ll squeeze some of their franchise owners to not invest in some of these other leagues but, in some ways, the horse has already bolted so I think the status quo will probably remain,” Russell added.
Unlike all the other cricketing nations, the BCCI doesn’t allow their contracted players to play in other franchise leagues around the world — meaning their top stars such as Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja are only seen playing in the IPL.
Russell says he has unsuccessfully tried to lure Indian players to CPL.
“We have [had conversations with BCCI] but, of course, once you break the seal and say, ‘Bring some players into CPL,’ the reality is every league will then want them to play for them. The BCCI aren’t stupid people so the idea that they have a hold on to their players is why they get the value for the rights they have. If Kohli, Dohni, and these other guys played around the world it takes a bit of value off what they’re doing in IPL, so there’s no point in them sharing players with other leagues. It just doesn’t make sense for them, there’s no upside for them; the upside is only for the leagues they would be giving the players to ,” he said.
However batsman Ambati Rayudu, who played over 60 limited overs for India, featured in three games for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots during the 2023 season, scoring a total of 47 runs before returning home for personal reasons.
The 38-year-old, having retired from international and Indian cricket in 2023 after contributing to Chennai Super Kings’ fifth IPL title, became the second Indian player to participate in the men’s CPL, joining Pravin Tambe.
Russell, though, is hoping his experience will lead to more interest from the Indian fraternity.
“We had Rayudu play for St Kitts; he’s an ex-IPL player. Great to have him, good PR headlines, but it doesn’t move the needle massively. It’s not as if all of a sudden more fans tuned in to watch him play but what is good to hear, he goes back to India saying actually that it’s a tough league, that it’s not an easy league to play in. What I think he came across thinking he’d be scoring hundreds and the rest for fun, he got a bit of a shock in that regard,” he said.