IPL 2018, MS Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders
IPL has taken T20 cricket to a different level © AFP

Afghanistan will be playing their first cricket Test in Bengaluru in a little over a month’s time and it is already planning a global Twenty20 league.

The Afghan announcement comes soon after the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided that all Twenty20 matches between members will have international status.

The ICC, after its week-long but less publicised meetings in Kolkata, has also decided to lay down new minimum standards to make it easy for member-countries to globalise international cricket for both men and women, using Twenty20 cricket.

Women’s teams of all the member-nations will be awarded T20I status on July 1, whereas the men’s teams will get it on January 1, following the cut-off point for qualification to the ICC World Twenty20 in 2020. Rankings for women will be from October 2018 and men from May 2019.

It surely is a giant leap unlike in the past when the ICC tried to take the sport to global markets like the US., Canada, Japan and China, helping them increating infrastructure and providing them the equipment.

Interestingly, Lalit Modi, the founder chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL), had prophesied that players in the popular league will get paid $1 million a match once the $12 million cap is removed and they will be in the pay bracket of the English Premier League and of some stars in the highly lucrative American leagues.

How BCCI was left red-faced during ICC's quarterly meet in Kolkata
How BCCI was left red-faced during ICC's quarterly meet in Kolkata

Modi’s significant comments came as a curtain-raiser for the ICC meetings. “In a free market the person with the deepest pockets will win. The players will gravitate towards who pays the biggest salary,” he said, predicting the dmise of traditional cricket, which would now be effectively financed by professional financiers around the world, and that will make the ICC irrelevant.

The inaugural Afghanistan Premier League (APL) will have five teams and like the Pakistan Super League (PSL), it will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in October. Forty international players have apparently committed themselves to the league, which the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) thinks will take their cricket to “the next level.”

Afghanistan wants Indian players in the league, but it is highly unlikely the Indian authorities will allow it right now as that would dimish the popularity of the IPL. As it is the IPL has given the Afghan players a great platform and their players are also performing well.

Their exciting leggie Rashid Khan of Sunrisers Hyderabad is already a big star and fellow-teenage-spinner Mujeeb U Rahman is making people sit up and take note of his excellence with Kings XI, Punjab. Then, there is off-spinner Mohammad Nabi in the Sunrisers’ squad and Chinaman bowler Zaheer Khan Pakteen with Rajasthan Royals.

(Veturi Srivatsa is a senior journalist. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)