No ‘out of state’ player in TNPL hurts cricket

After a series of representations, Tamil Nadu Premier League is now waiting for BCCI’s nod to draft high performing players into the state premier league.
Tamil Nadu Premier League; large crowd  to the stadium
Tamil Nadu Premier League; large crowd to the stadium


acked crowds at cricket stadia across venues, massive TV audience and a sizeable fan following… What more can you ask for the successful conduct of a cricket tournament!

Within four years, the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) cricket tournament has created such an impact that it has been on the list of broadcaster Star Sports' most watched sports programmes this year. What IPL is to world cricket, TNPL is to Indian cricket! But unlike in IPL where each team signs up eight foreign players and can play four foreign players in each match, none is allowed in TNPL. The same logic is not being applied to TNPL, where the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is rigid and not allowing any player from outside of Tamil Nadu, leave alone foreign players, to participate. Same is the case for theKarnataka Premier League and the T20Mumbai League.

Bringing in players from across the country into the TNPL will give a leg up to the tournament and also more importantly improve the quality of the game and the players.

True to its objective of promoting cricket across the state, TNPL has taken the game to every nook and corner of the districts. “Our aim is to focus on cricket in the districts and that is the reason behind naming the teams after the districts. It has paid rich dividends as we continue to get good crowd support wherever we go,” says R I Palani, Joint Secretary, Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA).

The success of any tournament mainly depends on the performances of the players. Competition among players should always be on the dot to sustain spectators’ interest in the game. Right now, TNPL is predominantly a tournament showcasing talents within the state. Drafting outstation players into the tournament would not only raise the competition level but also bring in a glamour quotient, something the foreign players brought to IPL. Though numerous representations have been made from TNCA, BCCI is yet to respond positively and has been rather rigid.

Experts and TNPL stakeholders questioned the attitude of the BCCI asking, “How can they stop a player from the country playing in the TNPL and KPL? On what basis are they stopping players from being allowed to play in the TNPL and KPL?"

Selection is employment
B Sivanthi Adityan, Chepauk Super Gillies owner, asks, "Does this mean that a citizen from one part of the country cannot get a job in another part of the country? In India, anycitizen can take employmentanywhere in the country and the individual need not take any permission from anyone, isn’t it?"

“We are disappointed that the BCCI is yet to take a final call and give its ok for our representation to field outstation players in TNPL,” says P S Raman, Chairman, TNPLgoverning council.

Once outstation players start to perform, local talents would try to match the performance. “If BCCI allows Ranji Trophy players from other states and non-IPL players, that will itself add some value to the tournament. By drafting in high performing Ranji players, who are constantly knocking on the doors of IPL, you are providing a fantastic opportunity for other players also to up their game. It also makes life easy for the talent scouts of IPL franchisees,” says Raman.

At present, the IPL franchisees go through a hard grind to pick a player for the team. If they identify a player, say for instance one from Meghalaya, the opportunity to see the player in match condition is very limited. So, the player generally would be called for a net session and then for a practice match, whatever his credentials may be. Only if the player performs well at the nets and in the practice match will he get a chance to represent the team.

If that player gets a chance to play in TNPL, he will play at least seven matches and since all the matches are beamed live, his worthy performances are captured live and it becomes easy for the talent scouts, Ramanexplains.

“We have eight teams in TNPL and if there is a cap of four outstation players per team, then 32 players get a chance to prove their mettle. When we make our arguments, the administrators at the helm in BCCI are not willing to understand this simple message. We are just waiting for a change there and if all goes well we may get four players for each team from the next TNPL,” says Palani.

Since the focus is on improving the quality of cricket, introduction of outstation players benefits everyone. It helps both the player and franchisee. “We are not asking for any IPL player. We are only looking for players like Baba Aparajith and Indrajith, who are waiting in the wings to breakthrough. BCCI should think positively. It improves the quality of cricket played, resulting in more spectators and more followers for the sport,”says Palani.

“Definitely it will improve the quality of local talents, who will be constantly tested,” says M Venkataramana, former India international cricketer who now coaches the TNPL team,Dindigul Dragons.

BCCI calendar in June-Aug
The June-August window in the BCCI calendar is totally free and Tamil Nadu stands to gain as other states are not organising any tournament at that time, due to weather conditions. Here rain is very limited during this time. “BCCI should come to an understanding and they should have a formula that a player who plays for IPL should not play in any of the state premier league except that of his parent state. For example, Dinesh Karthik and R Ashwin can play only in TNPL and not in any other state premier leagues. Other players could be allowed to play in their parent state and one more state premier league in addition. All BCCI domestic tournaments will be given first preference,” Palani adds.

“Introduction of outstation players will generate a lot of interest among cricketing enthusiasts and common fans alike,” says N Venkatraman, Convener, District Secretaries Forum.

According to Raman, there is a BCCI rule which says a person can play for a state only if he is born in that state or has migrated to the state and has taken a no-objection certificate from the state in which he was born. In this case, BCCI has taken a stand that no-objection certificates should not be given to players to participate in other state premier leagues. “How can you prevent a player from another state, who is already playing in TNCA’s first division league, from playing in TNPL. For instance, Piyush Chawla plays for Chemplast in The Hindu Trophy, he plays in the VIP Trophy and in Palayampatti Shield. He is here playing cricket for five months in a year, but he can’t play in TNPL alone. We have got 18 to 20 cricketers who are playing in TNCA’s first division league,”says Raman.

“It is a fundamental right. How can a player be stopped? I feel we will have some clarity about it when the next TNPL season starts,” he says.

BCCI should understand that TNPL is not a competitor to IPL and will in no way dilute the intensity of IPL. For the betterment of cricket, BCCI must take a more expansive look at it.

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