Can an Efficient System like Transfer Window of Football be adopted in Cricket?

Transfers are the most exciting part of Summer in Europe. People love seeing new players sign for their favourite clubs. Be it a living legend like Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United or developing talent like Charles de Ketelaere, who is considered the next Kevin De Bruyne, being linked to uncountable clubs; Transfer Window is one of if not the most exciting events of a football season. With that being said, we aren’t talking football for now. Instead, let us imagine if a similar scenario existed in Cricket; just how exciting can things get? Crazy right? It is. 

Speaking practically, such a situation can’t be introduced to cricket because International Cricket takes at least eight months of a player. Considering the need for rest and other situations, most A-Grade cricketers have just 45-60 days for club/league cricket. While Test cricketers like Pujara and Rahane have more time in their hands, you don’t pay a thousand bucks to see Pujara batting in a T20 match. While every nation hosts their T20 leagues like IPL of India, Big Bash of Australia, and PSL of Pakistan, the schedules don’t exactly coincide, so there is no talk of transfers on an International scale. The lack of a global competition like football’s UCL also makes it hard, as a player like Chris Gayle has played across all the T20 leagues, including IPL, BBL, PSL, BPL, and CPL. This confuses both the player and the club as to which team a player plays for in such competitions. Such issues and lack of coordination among the various boards led to the downfall of the CLT20 league.

 We can’t change this situation as it obstructs the working of leagues. That leaves us with only one option. Transferring players within the league. As the 2022 IPL auction is set to be a mega auction, players will be sold on a massive scale. Each Club is keen to restructure itself. On the one hand, clubs like CSK will be looking to welcome some young blood in their ranks, others like DC would love to add a few experienced veterans to help them get over ‘that’ knockouts hurdle. Teams like RCB would search for quality Indian Bowlers, while SRH would be keen to invest in Indian Batsmen. The needs are different, and the last 13 years of IPL has proved one thing, you can only win the title if you have had a smart and successful auction. This has led teams like RCB and DC to miss out a couple of times on the title shot. While Mega Auction looks lustrous, it can’t provide answers to the problems of every franchise. The question remains, “What after the auction?”. 

The solution would be to introduce a transfer window situation from 2023. This will help the teams in the long run. You don’t need to plan for an entire auction; you can simply approach the club, pay a transfer fee, have a contract chat with a player, if all is well, sign him. As simple as that. It certainly looks less extravagant. This way, IPL can avoid unnecessary drama and get straight to business. It also makes it easier for clubs to retain and sell players. Franchises like Mumbai Indians have uncovered talents like Jasprit Bumrah. If there is an auction every year, there’s a good chance Bumrah would have been sold to other franchises, and he couldn’t have developed as well as he did in Mumbai. There would have been a good chance he could be left to rot on benches after a bad debut. A Transfer Window allows such a situation to be negated. First of all, Mumbai could have rejected a bid for Bumrah. Even if Mumbai accepted it, Bumrah could have dismissed it. If both the club and the player agree, it lets Mumbai Indians get a reasonable price for Bumrah, which is the primary defect of the auction system. Mumbai can sell Bumrah for the price they seem acceptable, and in case Bumrah doesn’t hit the ground running, he can request a transfer and find his mojo back. The retention system isn’t flexible, as you’re bound to lose some of your talents for literally nothing. How unfair!

The transfer scenario lets franchisees look for players they really need. For example, let’s take SRH’s case. SRH has a great foreign reserve and a good bowling line-up, but they suck at middle order and Indian batting depth. The auctions failed to answer this problem, and SRH over-relied on the likes of David Warner, Kane Williamson, and Jonny Bairstow. Whenever these guys couldn’t fire SRH, they fell in the puddle. Their famed bowling attack led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar bailed them out many times, but not everything goes your way every time. Injuries and other factors affected their chances which led to them winning their wooden spoon last season. The Transfer situation could have allowed them to bring unused batters like Rahane or Uthappa on loan or permanently to bolster their Indian line-up or look for a replacement bowler. This could have also provided the players with chances to prove their worth and earn a better deal.

Overall, the Transfer Window scenario is highly useful in T20 leagues and can avoid unnecessary expenditure. It allows players to terminate their contracts if they feel they aren’t given a chance and look for better options. It offers much-needed flexibility for clubs to retain their prized squads, which they have developed with utmost care and sell their ’junk’ and a better ‘chunk’ to bolster it further. It remains to be seen if BCCI and IPL committee adopts this feature to improve IPL’s overall quality and competitive nature.

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