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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Recently New Zealand pacer Trent Boult has given up his contract with the country's board. It is another sign of a revolution sweeping through the game. The change across the globe is happening not at a leisurely pace of a Test match but at the breakneck speed of a T20 innings.

Boult was a vital cog in the Kiwis line-up that won the inaugural World Test Championship and finished runners-up in three limited overs World Cups. From now on, Boult will have a significantly reduced role with the Black Caps.

The left-arm swing bowler requested the board to release him from his contract so that he could spend more time with his young family. However, a New Zealand Cricket (NZC) statement said, the 33-year-old wanted to make himself available for several domestic leagues across the globe.

Notably, a crammed international calendar in three formats of the game and the added strain of playing in biosecure bubbles during the Covid-19 pandemic have pushed veteran players like Boult to breaking point.

Earlier, England all-rounder Ben Stokes had quit the ODI format last month citing an unsustainable workload. Similarly, South Africa's Quinton de Kock had retired from Test cricket last year.

However, all these three found time to play in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) and are making themselves ready to take part in several T20 domestic leagues proliferating around the world.

Responding to the development, commentator Harsha Bhogle tweeted, "The decisions that Quinton de Kock, and specifically Trent Boult, have made, point to a future of shorter international careers and more players happy to be part of the gig economy."

"With young families, it isn't easy to play both, international cricket and T20 leagues," he added.

With mushrooming T20 leagues including upcoming leagues in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa, the choice has become easy for most of the players.
As per Bhogle, it would be unfair to criticise players who prioritise franchise cricket for 'greed and opportunism'.

Several West Indies players have also turned into T20 freelancers and in turn earning a lot more from franchise cricket than they could have earned playing international cricket. The uncertainty around the availability of their important players has frustrated West Indies chief coach Phil Simmons ahead of this year's T20 World Cup in Australia.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) deliberated on the growth of T20 leagues across the globe in its annual general meeting in Birmingham last month. However, anyone looking to them for leadership will be disappointed.

The global governing body of cricket has put the onus on the member boards to find balance between domestic and bilateral cricket to better manage the workload of players.
 

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