Superstar Australian batsman Steve Smith is resigned to missing out on this season’s Indian Premier League, in which he has a $2.5 million contract.
The lucrative T20 tournament, pushed back to April 15 due to coronavirus crackdowns, is in extreme doubt despite a desire to play on.
That puts in jeopardy massive new contracts for Pat Cummins ($3.2 million, Kolkata), Glenn Maxwell ($2.2 million, Punjab), Nathan Coulter-Nile ($1.6 million, Mumbai) and Aaron Finch ($900,000, Bangalore).
Smith (Rajasthan), David Warner ($2.5 million, Hyderabad) and Shane Watson ($800,000 Chennai) were retained on rich contracts for this IPL season. Warner opted out of English cricket’s new tournament The Hundred, where he’d signed for the maximum £125,000 ($252,000) with Southern Brave, but still intended to play the IPL.
The Times of India reported that players would not be paid if the IPL was cancelled, due to the loss of broadcast revenue that is distributed to franchises. Star Sports in 2017 paid $3.2 billion for five years of rights to the IPL.
Smith, Rajasthan’s captain for 2020, said that he was resigned to not playing IPL cricket this year – especially after his original travel plans were shut down.
“I was supposed to be heading off I think today, from New Zealand to the IPL, so obviously that’s not happening,” Smith said on Sports Sunday.
“I think the country’s basically shut it’s borders until the 15th of April. It’s obviously not looking likely at the moment, I think there might be some meetings over the next couple of days to discuss what the go is with it all.
“But just trying to stay physically fit and mentally fresh and if it goes ahead at some point, then great. If not, then there’s plenty going on in the world at the moment. Just play it day by day.”
Cricket Australia has not barred its players from taking part in the IPL, yet has also endorsed a ‘do not travel’ directive from the federal government.
Smith said that Australian cricket had otherwise been “lucky” to miss the harshest impacts of coronavirus, which threaten to decimate winter codes such as the NRL, AFL and rugby union.
Only some trifling limited-over cricket against New Zealand fell victim to COVID-19 restrictions and players were given nearly every opportunity to state their case for a Cricket Australia central contract, which are typically awarded in April.
“I think it’s a pretty lucky time for us, we only missed two one-dayers against New Zealand and the T20 tour to New Zealand as well,” Smith said.
“The winter sport codes are in a bit of a tough time at the moment with what’s been going on there, but I think they’re going to hold back on contracts perhaps in Australia for a little while and we’ll see how things go.
“Hopefully this virus plays its course and things can resume normally again. We’ve just got to listen to the experts and do what we can, and hopefully it passes.”
Cricketers have been warned that their incomes may be affected by the COVID-19 crisis, if the game loses revenue.
Australia is meant to host the T20 World Cup, starting in October, and is scheduled to host marquee guest India for the regular home summer.
After a one-off Test against Afghanistan, there are four Tests and three ODIs planned against Virat Kohli’s side from November to January, plus three one-dayers against New Zealand.
A pair of Tests scheduled for Bangladesh this June look certain to fall victim to coronavirus, as does a limited-overs tour of England in July.