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Opinion: Franchise Cricket is here to stay, the sport must adapt or risk losing its greatest stars

In the last 15 years, T20 franchise cricket has burst onto the scene and has exploded with popularity due to it’s unpredictable nature and exciting matches.

Top level players are now being pulled in different directions, and often have to make the very difficult decision of whether to play for their country or earn a life changing sum of money in a white ball tournament.  

The money a player can make playing county cricket in England pales in comparison to the money a player can make playing franchise white ball cricket.

Every major cricketing nation now has a big-money franchise tournament, and the reach of the game has now spread to nations that are lesser known for their cricketing exploits.

The Global T20 Canada launched in June 2018 and featured the likes on Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Mohammed Hafeez and Yuvraj Singh.

To the despair of many cricketing purists, there is now a ten over tournament that takes place in Abu Dhabi and features the likes of Tom Banton, Ben Duckett and Jamie Overton.

English all-rounder Ben Stokes was one of the IPL’s highest earners in 2020, taking home £1.2 million for just five weeks cricket.

Jofra Archer, Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow have all been selected to play in this years IPL, and could miss out on England’s first Test against New Zealand in May if their sides progress to the playoffs.

Gloucestershire County Cricket Club all-rounder Benny Howell played in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2019 for the Rangpur Rangers.

Cricket is a job and the career of a sportsman short and uncertain, which makes the financial benefits of playing franchise cricket even more appealing.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial impact that it has had on domestic cricket, the minimum wage for full time county cricketers was lowered to £24,000 last year.

Cricketers may have 15 years at the top level if they are lucky, and who can blame them for trying to maximise the amount of money that they earn.

England could play up to 18 Test matches this year as well as a number of white ball series’ and a T20 world cup in India. For the cricket loving public, this is great, but that is a heavy workload for English internationals who will also feature in the inaugural season of the Hundred.

To combat the heavy fixture load, England have adopted a policy of squad rotation, which has already shown signs that it could hurt Joe Root’s men. After a dominant win against India in the first Test match of the series, Buttler and Jimmy Anderson were rested and England were convincingly beaten.

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This revolving door method will undoubtedly impact England on and off the pitch in the most important cricketing year in recent memory.

In future, the ECB most recognise that cricketers have to look after their families financially, and that players will have other commitments.

Mohammed Amir retired from international cricket at the age of 28 after increasing pressure from the Pakistan Cricket Board to play Test match cricket.

If England fail to adapt with the times and reduce the amount of fixtures that they play then they risk losing their greatest stars.

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