With the winter IPL becoming a growing possibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former skipper Ian Chappell is wary of Sheffield Shield teams fielding understrength sides during the next edition of the country's premier domestic first-class competition and urged the top cream of nation's talent to get their priorities right.
Due to originally start on March 29, the IPL 2020 remains indefinitely postponed due to the health crisis. But given the money at stake, BCCI and IPL franchises are hoping for the outbreak to soon be over and the tournament to be played at a new window, possibly during the October-November phase.
If that happens, the first five rounds of the Sheffield Shield and its List A version could be majorly affected, with the big names instead plying their trade in India.
"Well this is coming from someone who's never been a fan of the board, but the top players are looked after very well by Cricket Australia these days, so I think there's an obligation there," Chappell told Wide World of Sports.
"It's also a chance to stand up and say the cricket world isn't going to be pushed around by India," he added. "I could mount a case more for a peripheral player who doesn't earn a lot of money in Australia; if the bulk of his income is going to come from the IPL, well that's something I would have some sympathy for if I was a CA board member."
"But the top players are well paid, and that argument doesn't hold any water. Their obligation should be to Australia."
In the quest to get the October-November slot, the T20 World Cup will be the strongest roadblock. But Chappell says if the BCCI goes about flexing its muscles at the ICC level, "it will win" and the governing body will be forced to shift its own showpiece event.
"The first thing you know is that the BCCI will win," he said. "They'll get their way if they want to play in October. At this point, it appears to me that the chances of the T20 World Cup going ahead are somewhere between Buckley's and none."
"With so many countries, I just think it would be logistically way too difficult, but that's purely a cricketer talking, not a medical person or someone with experience running a tournament like that."
"But it seems to me with 16 teams to worry about it's probably going to be too hard, and if the BCCI want the IPL to take that slot they'll probably get their way."
While it is improbable that the likes of Pat Cummins, bought at INR 15.5 crore at the IPL auction, and others will let go such level of earnings to play domestic cricket, there is also the threat of BCCI retaliating by not sending the Indian team over there for the scheduled Test series that Cricket Australia (CA) just can't financially do without.
"Well the BCCI might try to retaliate, but it would be pretty stupid, because apart from Australia and India there aren't too many good Test-playing countries," Chappell said. "To me, bully-boy tactics never work long-term, they might work in the short-term, but that's it."
"It's time someone in the cricket world had the guts to stand up to India and say 'if that's the way you want to play, that's fine, we'll find someone else.'"
"Sure it would be a whole lot of money down the drain, which at this stage would be difficult to swallow, but this is an opportunity to show the rest of the cricket world that there's somebody prepared to stand up to India, and it's time that a bit of common sense came into the scheduling."
Chappell is optimistic that won't happen, given how skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri have been pushing for Test cricket.
"I'm not convinced that India would go down that route," he said. "I don't know the thinking of the BCCI board, but I think if they tried that on, they'd get serious kickback from Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri."
"Kohli strikes me as the sort of player who wants to challenge himself at every opportunity. He beat Australia here last time, he wouldn't want to throw away the opportunity to now beat a full-strength Australian team."
"I think Kohli would be mightily pissed off if the Indian board went down that route. I also know Ravi pretty well, and I know how competitive he is."
(Inputs from Wide World of Sports)