By: Chinmay Vaidya
With the rise of T20 leagues around the globe, Canada wasn't going to be left behind. The Global T20 Canada wrapped up its second season with the Winnipeg Hawks taking down the Vancouver Knights to win the title. Winnipeg was led by Shaiman Anwar, who put up 90 runs in 45 balls. Although Andre Russell and Shoaib Malik forced a super over, Chris Lynn and Anwar were able to finish the job for Winnipeg.
GT20 Canada, according to the tournament's website, has 1.5 million subscribers across its social media platforms. It's not on the level of the IPL or BBL, but that's a significant figure. More important, 85% of app users are interacting daily. Retention rates are important for leagues to grow and there's enough traction to here to see GT20 as an annual edition to the cricket calendar. Throw in big names like Yuvraj Singh, Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle and you'll get fans in the stadium. However, those big names come with some big paychecks and that's where the chaos comes in.
According to ESPNCricinfo's Peter Della Penna, the Toronto Nationals and Montreal Tigers refused to take the field for a match due to unpaid wages. Della Penna reported the protest extended beyond those two squads, with several other teams also making it known they would protest until the checks cleared.
Wage protests can be a death nail for a T20 league. Get enough players to protest and it turns off future competitors from joining. According to Della Penna's report, some players hadn't been paid from their participation in GT20 2018 either. It's quite stunning how the league actually came together this year given players likely had knowledge of these problems.
The wage protest added to the overall chaos of the organization of GT20. Fans weren't able to park at CAA Centre and had to use a shuttle service to get to the ground. The ground itself was, obviously, designed for maximum boundary damage and therefore smaller than a standard field. GT20 lasted 18 days in total. Compare that to some of the other established leagues which span several months.
There is promise for the league to grow. Once the official numbers come through, GT20 will likely surpass its projected 150 million viewers from the beginning of the tournament. A final going to the "super over" will help the cause. However, the infrastructure behind the scenes needs to be cleaned up and the tournament as a whole needs to operate like a legitimate league rather than something seemingly hastily thrown together.
There is always a cost to becoming a regular event on the global cricket calendar. Two seasons in, it's unclear whether GT20 is willing to pay it.