The Indian Premier League may not have suffered a rough year in terms of its mass appeal among the fans, but it still enjoys numero uno status as far as international cricketers are concerned.
According to a survey of international cricketers, almost 33 per cent of the players said they would retire early from international cricket to play exclusively in the IPL.
The results of the survey carried out by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations during this year's World Cup were released Thursday.
The survey claimed that almost one-third of the 45 players surveyed said they would consider giving up international cricket prematurely to play exclusively in IPL, citing fears over fixture clashes curbing their participation in the lucrative event.
"The Indian Premier League continues to be popular with the players, and its superior pay structures for the players continue to challenge players' priority over international cricket," said FICA chief executive Tim May.
"FICA is a strong advocate of the international schedule co-existing with the Indian Premier League, rather than competing with it. When players are able to earn over 10 times their annual salary from their boards, for just 7 weeks cricket in the IPL, it would be foolhardy of boards to continue to schedule International matches during IPL and expect players to remain loyal to the board," he opined.
The survey also indicated 54 per cent of players would retire from one or more formats of the game because of too much international cricket.
Players cited the major issues facing the game as governance, corruption and an overkill of international cricket, while only a single-figure percentage said decisions made at ICC Board level were in the wider interests of the game.
The bans handed to the three Pakistani cricketers for spot-fixing offences were also thought to be too lenient, according to the survey.
More than three-quarters of respondents to FICA survey said the five-year bans meted out to Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer inadequate.
The trio, accused by Britain's News of the World of conspiring to deliberately bowl no-balls as part of a 'spot-fixing' betting scam last year, were banned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
All deny wrongdoing and are appealing the verdicts at the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
"The vast number of players want significant penalties to be invoked against those who are found guilty of serious corruption offences," said May, a former Australia test spinner.
"Whilst 100 per cent of players say that they will report any corrupt approaches made to them, 20 per cent of them do not have confidence in the ICC to treat this information confidentially."
May said the vast majority of the 45 players polled were more comfortable reporting corruption approaches to their team manager, than to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit.
The study also showed that almost 70 per cent thought the Board of Control for Cricket in India exerted too much influence globally.
"Players have highlighted that the governance of the game is a serious issue," May said.
Only six per cent said International Cricket Council decisions were made in the best interests of the game, while 69 per cent agreed the decision making of the ICC was influenced unfairly by the power of the BCCI. A further 31 per cent answered "don't know" to the question on the BCCI's influence, meaning not a single player gave a definitive no.
"FICA have continually advocated for a review of the game's governance. Its present structure is outdated, full of conflicts, cronyism and far from best practice," the former Australia cricketer said.
In other survey findings:
— the bulk of players (72 per cent) supported the reduction of the World Cup to 10 teams, but 91 per cent thought it should include qualifying for the Associate nations rather than be restricted to the ICC's 10 full member nations.
— More than 80 per cent said the Decision Review System resulted in better decision making from umpires at the World Cup, with 97 per cent agreeing that the DRS should be mandatory in all test matches.
FICA comprises player associations from all full test member countries except India, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.