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Top cricketers ready to become IPL freelancers

In less then a decade the cricketing landscape has been changed forever with the rise in popularity of Twenty20 cricket attracting a new wave of players ready to become Twenty20 freelancers roaming the world.

With the IPL taking a strangle hold on world cricket it's not hard to imagine a time at the end of the next decade when Twenty20 cricket is the most popular form of the game.

The building blocks of this change are already starting to be put in place with more and more cricketers ready to turn their backs on international cricket.

A recent survey conducted by the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) showed 61% of Australia's top cricketers would opt for a freelance Twenty20 career.

The survey will shock Cricket Australia (CA) and other cricketing boards around the world. Even in a country like Australia where it's top cricketers are amongst the best paid in the world the lure of the IPL shows the changing priorities of today's cricketers.

A decade ago receiving your Baggy Green was probably the greatest moment in an Australian's international career but even the most precious of items isn't enough to stop players from becoming freelancers.

Over 22% of the cricketers surveyed said they would turn down a CA contract in order to play a full season in the IPL following in the footsteps of Andrew Flintoff.

The England all rounder retired from test cricket last summer and turned down an ECB central contract worth over $50,000 in order to maximize his earning power in the IPL playing for the Chennai Super Kings.

"I think Andrew Flintoff's decision is a sign of the times and is reflective of what a number of players around the world are currently thinking" said ACA chief executive Paul Marsh.

"The reality is that the national boards no longer have a monopoly over the players' services. There are new, exciting and lucrative options available to players, and not surprisingly many are giving serious consideration to their futures" he added.

"Our players are well paid, but a competition such as the IPL in many cases provides a package of more money for less work and therefore less time away from home. Tell me that's not a proposition any person would consider."

James Sutherland, CA chief executive wasn't surprised that Australia's top cricketers were considering their options but believed Twenty20 cricket would make more talented young athletes choose cricket over other sports like Rugby.

"There is no doubt the labour market has changed in that there are broader options now than there were before" Sutherland said.

"I am really pleased at the way in which our players continue to value the honour of representing their country and have a real focus on achieving things as an Australian cricket team. I guess that pride and responsibility and honour are all things Australian cricket has been built on. We don't want to move away from that.

"It's also about making sure we offer a rewarding career for Australian cricketers, whether they are representing their state and their country, and we're very proud of the fact that we're running a business that can afford to ensure Australian cricketers are the best paid cricketers in the world."

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