Melbourne: With reports emerging that Australian batting stalwart David Warner could ditch the domestic Big Bash League (BBL) this season and head to more lucrative tournaments like the United Arab Emirates T20 league, legendary cricketer Adam Gilchrist has warned Cricket Australia (CA) to take cognizance of it before more players decide to follow suit. A report in The Australian has suggested Warner, 35, wants to skip Big Bash League this season and has sought permission to play in the inaugural season of the UAE T20 League, whose dates are likely to clash with the BBL early next year.
Three IPL franchises — Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Capitals — have made huge investments in the UAE T20 league and Warner’s reported decision “is a blow to Cricket Australia’s plans to have its Test stars available for BBL-12”, said sen.com.au on Wednesday.
Weighing in on the debate, former Australia wicketkeeper-batter Adam Gilchrist has said he is becoming concerned by the IPL’s monopolisation of global T20 competitions.
“I think it would almost be commercial suicide for them (Cricket Australia) to allow a player like him (Warner) to go head-to-head up against their own competition,” Gilchrist told SEN’s Whateley on Wednesday.
“They can’t force David Warner to play in the BBL, I understand that, but to let him then go off — or another player, let’s not single out Warner because there will be other players on the radar — it’s all part of this global dominance that these IPL franchises are starting to create given they own a number of teams in the Caribbean Premier League.
“They own all six teams I believe in the new South African tournament that’s coming up, which will be locking horns for commercial space and airtime with the Big Bash (League),” added Gilchrist. “It’s getting a little bit dangerous the grip that it’s having to monopolise that ownership and the ownership of the players and their talents and where they can and can’t play.
“David Warner, again, using him as an example, we can’t question his commitment to Australian cricket over the years, he’s carved out one of the great careers. If he rides off into the sunset and says, ‘Sorry Australian cricket, I’m going to become a gun for hire for my Indian franchise team in various tournaments’ you can’t question him on that, that’s his prerogative and he’s done everything he needs to get the profile and get that market value.”
One of the major reasons for Warner reportedly drifting away from BBL is that Cricket Australia is not lifting the leadership ban imposed on him since the ‘sandpaper-gate scandal’ during the 2018 Test series in South Africa.
Several current and former greats, including Allan Border and Greg Chappell among other, have demanded the ban be lifted so that Warner can lead a BBL side.
Gilchrist is also concerned that the younger lot might follow into Warner’s footsteps and leave the Australian system to ply their trade in various new leagues across the world.
“It’s the new younger player coming in that starts to make those noises where it’ll be really challenging. Perhaps it’s the first example where David Warner doesn’t sign a contract with Cricket Australia at all, he just plays for a match fee.
“He goes and plays whatever he wants but says, ‘I’m available for every Test match, for every one-day international and every T20 international’ by way of example, I’ll be there for you in national colours. But other than that, I’m going to play my club, my franchise cricket, wherever I want to knowing that none of those big tournaments will be clashing with international cricket,” added Gilchrist.