x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Give IPL a space of its own

After the decision of West Indies players to turn freelance, there will be plenty of vitriol directed at the tournament for turning “gentlemen” cricketers into mercenaries.

Andrew Flintoff was the first to make the leap and Brendon McCullum came close to following suit. Now Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo have joined cricket's freelancers by turning down central contracts with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). When Flintoff made that choice last year, he was castigated publicly and the West Indies trio will surely face a similar backlash for their "lack of patriotism" and greed. There will also be plenty of vitriol directed at the Indian Premier League (IPL) in coming the days for turning "gentlemen" cricketers into mercenaries.

Would that discourage others from following Gayle and his ilk? Highly unlikely. From a financial perspective, they have made a sound decision. A central retainer with the WICB would have assured them US$80,000 (Dh293,848) over the coming 12 months, a pittance compared to the amounts on offer in the IPL. Gayle reportedly earned $800,000 a year with Kolkata Knight Riders. With the IPL auctions coming up soon, accepting WICB contracts would have meant having the leave the Twenty20 tournament at the board's discretion. Being freelancers makes them hotter property.

They have not turned their backs on West Indies cricket; they have just exercised their options of ensuring a bigger bank balance for post-retirement days. How are cricket's bosses to stop this from killing international cricket? Creating a window for the IPL should be a first. Making Test cricket more meaningful - and rewarding - would be a definite way out. arizvi@thenational.ae