Why Are South Africa’s Best Players at the IPL and Not Playing for their Country?

Whenever a budding athlete is considering a career in professional sport, they are consistently reminded of the old adage of how fleeting a career is for them if they choose to do so. In short, the warning is that tertiary education should not be shunned in favor of the bright lights of the professional sporting realm just in case injury or any other unforeseen circumstances derail the dream. However, if they are able to safely navigate their way into the professional sporting world and carve out a living from it, the tone then changes slightly.

Why are South Africas best players at the IPL and not playing for their country

Players are then encouraged to make as much as possible whilst they can, given that the same variables are still in play and pose as much of a risk. Naturally, this ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ approach can involve a few toes being stepped on along the way, as loyalty is often discarded in favor of more money. For South Africa’s cricketers and the country’s fans, this is the case right now.

The best players compete in the lucrative Indian Premier League as the country’s B Team does battle against Bangladesh on Durban’s east coast in front of a sparse crowd.
So, while the autumn winds blow around the creaking old stadium of Kingsmead, the country’s finest earn eye-watering sums in India. But should the Proteas’ best players be allowed to forsake their national duty in pursuit of more money?

For the love of money?

Believe it or not, the players are allowed to do so. The powers that be at Cricket South Africa inserted a clause into the players’ national contracts that stipulate that the IPL is the only competition they are allowed to play in whilst the nation may be involved in international fixtures. In other words, CSA recognizes the IPL window and typically does not stand in the way of its players if they wish to compete in the event. 

There are a few reasons for CSA’s lenient stance towards the IPL and they are chiefly that the board earns a percentage of money back when their players do compete in the IPL. This compensation normally amounts to 10% of a player’s contract fee.

So, in Kagiso Rabada’s case, the fast bowler will be paid R18.4 million to turn out for the Punjab Kings in 2022 which means that CSA will earn R1.8 million for the two months that he is playing in the IPL.

One of the other crucial reasons that CSA allows its players to compete in the IPL at the expense of international selection is that they do not want to run into conflict with the Board of Control for Cricket in India. This is due to how lucrative a healthy relationship with them is.

In this sense, the BCCI would quietly expect South Africa’s best players to be allowed to participate which would, in turn, boost the global appeal of the IPL. The aim is to open the door to future tours taking place between India and the Proteas without hassle which would, of course, generate a significant amount of money for South African cricket. 

Without South Africa, the Show Can’t Go on 

The BCCI and IPL rely on South Africa’s stars to help sell the tournament, and the franchise owners know how important the players are to the potential success of their teams. Again, take Rabada for example, who plays for the Punjab Kings, and then look at this list of top cricket betting sites in India which price the franchise at odds of 15.0 to win the 2022 event.

While that may seem high as of the end of April, a few wins via talismanic performances from Rababda could easily see his franchise get back to the top of the IPL standings in the blink of an eye. We have sourced the above odds from 4raBet but generally, you will find any teams with South Africans in them are tipped for IPL success.

Essentially, the BCCI needs the best players from the tip of Africa to show up in order to strengthen the yearly spectacle. So, now that we have established what the contracts say and that South Africa has to do some pandering to the BCCI, should it be this way? In a word, yes. South Africa, you see, hardly ever plays cricket in the autumn and almost never competes in May, either – unless it is at a World Cup

These are obviously the months that the IPL takes place every year and is where the mantra of making hay while the sun shines really comes into play. Typically, the Proteas compete from September to March, which guarantees there are no major scheduling conflicts.

This year has been an exception because of an international fixture list that is still somewhat backlogged which has seen Bangladesh arrive on South African shores in the autumn for a whistlestop tour. With this being the case and the exception rather than the rule, you have to conclude that it is appropriate for the Rainbow Nation’s best players to answer the IPL’s call.

Rivcky John

A prominent figure in sports journalism for the last two decades. Cricket Analyst & Writing News, Features, Match Previews/Reviews/Reports, And Opinion Pieces on Cricket. You can connect with him on Facebook also.

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