With private promoters luring players with millions of dollars, players unions will have to handle some very sensitive issue these days

He may not have hit it big like his dad, former Australian wicket keeping great Rodney Marsh, but Paul now manages the world’s champion cricketers. With television calling the shots, cricket has a tight calendar. Rest is a rare thing for the players and injuries a constant companion. This is where men like Paul Marsh, the Chief Executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, play a crucial role, making cricket boards see sense and in a way, prolonging players’ careers. And with many tempting offers luring stars these days, its a very sensitive period for the players chief.

“Cricketers are playing too many games these days. Now we have the Twenty20 too,” said the 35-year-old who was in the city the other day in connection with Australia’s October 2 one-dayer against India. “We need to find a balance between everything. But the problem is, nine of the ten cricket-playing countries almost play at the same time.”

With Twenty20 being a huge hit, there could be more of the miniature games in future. “Twenty20 needs to be a replacement of one-dayers, not on top of them,” said Paul, a former club cricketer in Perth.

With players often giving their views during games, with microphones clipped to their sweaty shirts, Twenty20 offers spectators a much closer look at the game and the pressure involved. After years of watching the action from the ringside, the fans are now virtually inside the ring. And with loud music and cheering girls at many venues, Twenty20 which has its first ICC World Championship in South Africa this September - offers a party ambience.

“I don’t believe gimmicks are necessary, we should keep them away from the game. In Twenty20, the entertainment should be in the cricket,” said Paul, whose dad who later became an England selector and once held the world record for most dismissals. “And cricket should be careful with Twenty20, it could take on the one-dayers in future.” The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been slow to respond to crickets ultra-short version but others see big opportunity.

Big opportunity

American billionaire Allen Stanford has planned a $23 million Twenty20 tournament in the West Indies next year featuring India, Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa with the winner facing a Caribbean All-Star team, while Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group is working on an Indian Cricket League. Both have some of the greats of the game on board.

Do you see a link between the two? Will Cricket Australia accept the Stanford’s offer? What’s your view on the developments?

“Obviously, I see a link because both are private promoters. And I don’t think Stanford’s tournament has been accepted by the ICC. But I would not like to comment on the other things,” said Paul.

STAN RAYAN

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