The South African cricket team has lost several players to the IPL just as the Ban-SA test matches were scheduled. Many have put the country vs economics argument including the Test team captain Dean Elgar who obviously stands to suffer most from a loss to Bangladesh. He had said that IPL is money but the flag is more important.
However, the players selected didn't necessarily agree and went ahead with their plans. This included the fiery fast bowlers such as Kagiso Rabada, rated one of the best in the world. It's possible that if SA doesn't do well, which means they beat Bangladesh twice that is in both test matches, the IPL lot will be blamed even more for letting down their country.
The SA Cricket Board knew it was coming and for a super power cricket country now limping a bit, this is not happy news. They have had several test match losses and the situation is tougher because the ODI team lost to Bangladesh. But they had agreed. No option here really.
Suddenly serious test series
From Bangladesh's point of view that's fantastic but for South Africa, it's humiliating and that has hurt all. SA people had no interest in the ODIs as observed from the absence of any crowd in the venue and BD is rated poorly like in most places. But the defeat has hurt everyone and as the Test matches captain said, everyone is hurting and wants to get back to their best and beat Bangladesh. That's fair and square but the point is the crisis is generated by players putting their economics first and their flag later. Is that fair and square?
South Africa could actually have done a Bangladesh and refused to give an NOC which it did to Taskin Ahmed, the ODI star. They however let Mustafiz go as it was thought he could be spared. The Fizz hadn't had a grand time in the ODIs in terms of taking wickets but he was a terrific match factor. So he was thought affordable by the BCB. Fizz yes but Taskin no. But SA had other issues too.
Bangladesh is just on the way up and right now, the money BCB gives is not bad. Plus the 3 crore bonus shows that the rich BCB can and will splash money. It's not in the Sakib pocket class but decent for now. And only two players were asked. The pressure on the South Africans is much more. The SA Board also is aware of the economics of players' pressure.
What a player can earn in an IPL season is way more than what a player can't earn in several seasons playing for the national team. So on what ground will a national Board refuse an NOC other than a national cause? But then, that would apply to all professionals and money makers. How can they single out cricketers?
In the case of Bangladesh, it works for now because the glory is so much shinier this season but should the winning streak continue what will happen is obvious. Of course the players will have to be good enough to be asked in the first place.
Economics of patriotism?
T 20 franchise cricket has changed cricket and such leagues are being played in many parts of the world. There will be more not less of these as the quick forty overs match can be played out, watched, cheered and be still not a hindrance to attending office the next day. It's here to stay and promises to have longer innings than Test matches which are now only good for prestige. Ironically, it's the test match players who do well have the highest rates in the IPL or other T 20 leagues.
Cricket matches are no longer about flag waving patriotism though it is when the national team plays but the reality is the rising global economics of sports is increasingly dominating sports. The story of the US basketball players active in China during the off season is an accurate description of things to come. Sports skills are internationally marketable goods and that's what is going to lead the show. Once women's PL begins in India, BD also may lose one or two and it's inevitable. In fact, most are proud of local players in the IPL. They are huffed if not selected but again say that the national team must come first.
The South African Board thought that they could handle Bangladesh without all the stellar players so that must have played a part. They also think that there are many more in the stable and can cope which is probably right. The answer therefore is to make sure there are enough good players to replace the ones gone to play somewhere else. It's not just flag waving but economics too.
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