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“We Are Getting To A Point Where Things May Break”

Lisa Sthalekar, the President of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA), has expressed growing apprehension about the potential strain on the men’s international cricket calendar if prompt solutions are not implemented.

One of the primary concerns is the increasing dominance of franchise T20 leagues, which are progressively occupying larger portions of the cricketing schedule each year. Furthermore, reports have emerged of informal discussions between IPL franchise owners and international cricketers regarding long-term contracts.

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Lisa Sthalekar, who recently visited Dhaka upon the invitation of the Cricketers’ Welfare Association of Bangladesh, revealed that such discussions have been taking place behind closed doors among the ICC, cricket boards, and FICA.

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She emphasized that the game is evolving rapidly, and without prompt action, there is a risk of reaching a breaking point. The ICC and national boards are engaged in ongoing conversations to address these concerns, and FICA is actively participating in the dialogue.

Recognizing the benefits of T20 cricket and the players’ desire to maximize their earnings within a limited timeframe, Lisa Sthalekar acknowledged that many players enjoy participating in bilateral cricket, ICC events, and T20 leagues. However, she highlighted the growing size of the men’s cricket calendar and urged the ICC and national boards to collaborate on finding a solution.

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The Game Is Changing At A Rapid Pace: Lisa Sthalekar

Lisa Sthalekar acknowledged that this would not be an immediate fix and suggested that players should play a role in the decision-making process, allowing everyone to benefit from the situation.

“The game is changing at a rapid rate. These conversations have been happening for a while behind closed doors [between the ICC, the cricket boards and FICA]. We are getting to a point where things may break. I know that the ICC is speaking to the national boards. We are speaking to the ICC as well. We have to wait and see how that happens,” she said as quoted by ESPNcricinfo.

“We all see the benefit of T20 cricket. We understand players have a small window to maximise their earnings. A lot of our players are enjoying playing bilateral cricket, ICC events and the T20 leagues. We understand that the men’s calendar is getting quite big. We are urging the ICC and national boards to come together because it is not a solution that can be solved straight away. Certainly, the players would like to play a role in that, to see if there’s a way forward for everyone to have their cake and eat it as well.”

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Lisa Sthalekar further emphasized that national boards aspire to retain their top players for international cricket, while FICA aims to facilitate decision-making for players so that they are not forced to choose between different cricketing opportunities. The objective is to establish a strong international competition where countries eagerly field their best players against each other. However, the emergence of numerous leagues has resulted in clashes with bilateral cricket, complicating the scheduling process.

With the men’s calendar becoming increasingly congested, a collaboration between Lisa Sthalekar, FICA, the ICC, and national boards has become crucial. FICA, representing a significant proportion of global players, seeks to streamline decision-making for players, ensuring they do not have to make difficult choices between competing commitments.

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Lisa Sthalekar acknowledged that the challenge lies primarily with the national boards, which have a vested interest in retaining players for international cricket. Collaborating with the ICC and national boards, FICA is committed to finding viable solutions that alleviate the burden on players and provide them with clearer options.

As discussions continue, the focus remains on preserving the essence of international cricket while accommodating the rise of franchise T20 leagues. The goal is to strike a balance that benefits all stakeholders involved, enabling players to participate in various cricketing avenues without compromising the quality and integrity of the game.

“People have been crying out for the WPL for a long time. It was very successful. The appetite was great. Crowds came in, the broadcast numbers were excellent,” Lisa Sthalekar said.

“The great thing is that female players can earn a decent living playing the game. When I was playing – I retired ten years ago – I had to have a full-time job [outside the game]. It is no longer the case for a lot of cricketers. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go.”

“Ideally we would like to see the women’s calendar fit in T20 leagues, bilaterals and ICC events so that players don’t have to choose one or the other. We can learn some lessons from the men’s calendar. We have to nip things in the bud before it gets too big,” Lisa Sthalekar added.

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