London: England legend Ian Botham has called for the scrapping of Indian Premier League, saying the T20 domestic event is "too powerful" for cricket's "long-term good" and the game would be better off without the tournament.
"I'm worried about the IPL in fact, I feel it shouldn't be there at all as it is changing the priorities of world cricket. Players are slaves to it. Administrators bow to it," Botham said while delivering the 2014 MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord's last night.
Ian Botham. Pic/ Vishal Kelkar
"How on Earth did the IPL own the best players in the world for two months a year and not pay a penny to the boards who brought these players into the game? "I know this has been modified to a degree, but it is still an imbalance. The IPL is too powerful for the long-term good of the game."
The 58-year-old former England skipper also expressed his concerns about IPL's impact on corruption in the game. "Corruption is enough of a problem in itself, but the IPL compounds that problem given it provides the perfect opportunity for betting and therefore fixing," he said.
"We have seen a few players exposed, but does throwing the odd second XI player into jail solve it? "To kill the serpent, you must cut off its head. The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit must pursue the root of the problem and if necessary expose the big names," Botham said.
Botham's lecture came merely 24 hours after England slumped to yet another humiliating ODI loss as India took an invincible 3-0 lead in the five-match series with an emphatic nine-wicket win in the fourth one-dayer at Edgbaston.
Botham, who termed England's performance in ODIs as a "joke", did not make specific reference to any player but raised questions about central contracts that are awarded to English players now. He feels the long and lucrative central contracts, which were not there during his playing days, have made cricketers complacent.
"Central contracts are brilliant, but it has now become so essential to the England player that the sharpness goes," he said. "A long contract is a cosy contract. To play international sport, above all else above even freshness and rest you must have desire. It is not enough to want success."
"You must need success. If you want it, that's fine, but you must need it as a player. Hunger is still the most important attribute for any sportsman," he said.