Will BCCI allow Indians to play in foreign T20 leagues?

The stubborn reluctance of the BCCI in allowing Indians to play in the T20 leagues around the world has been a matter of debate and conjecture for long. However, there could be a rethink on the issue. Vinod Rai, the chairman of the Committee of Administrators (CoA), confirmed to TOI that BCCI was open to looking into the matter. “I am open to examining such a proposal,” Rai said on Wednesday (August 30), without elaborating on the specifics. Acting BCCI president CK Khanna also said that the matter could be discussed in an appropriate forum.

There have been instances of Indian players wanting to ply their trade on foreign shores but the proposals have always been shot down by BCCI. Even those who didn’t have a central contract with BCCI have been denied permission. Recently, Suresh Raina approached Ajay Sethi, the owner of Port Elizabeth franchise in the upcoming T20 league in South Africa. “India should allow non-contracted players to play in other leagues as they will add huge value to the game. Suresh Raina was very keen to work with our team as ambassador. Raina is a great player and should be given a chance to play outside. There are many like him and they make some money, family holiday and cricket connect,” Sethi, who owns Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, said.

It is understood that more Indians who aren’t in the national reckoning are inclined to join such a league. Indian stars are much in demand from various T20 leagues and the South African league is no exception with the team owners strongly backing the idea of involving them in the league. The ostensible reason behind BCCI’s thought process is that it will dilute the pre-eminence of IPL and the importance of other domestic tournaments. With the Indian domestic season clashing with T20 Global League and Australia’s Big Bash, BCCI fears that allowing the players to play outside will impact domestic events.

Board officials say that they don’t want a situation like West Indies to emerge in India where most of their top cricketers are busy playing T20 cricket by ignoring the national team. If a player wants to play away , then he should announce his retirement, feels the board. But isn’t refusing Indian cricketers permission to play away depriving them of their fundamental right of livelihood?

Interestingly, IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders’ CEO, Venky Mysore, is in favour of allowing Indians in other T20 leagues. “I am stating the obvious but Indian players will be considered as foreigners in any league outside India, so if they are allowed to play, at best you might see 6-8 players being selected in those foreign leagues. In my view, young emerging players who may not be getting opportunities in IPL can be considered first with a view to providing them exposure and opportunity. That will in turn benefit them & Indian cricket,” Mysore said.

On the possibility of the BCCI letting Indians play in other T20 league, Haroon Lorgat, Cricket South Africa CEO, said, “We would, of course, welcome Indian players with open arms. Our players and fans would welcome their participation.” However, sources say that the old guard in the BCCI administration would try to foil any such move.


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