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London [UK], February 2 (ANI): Former England captain Andrew Strauss opines that the multiplication of T20 franchise tournaments all over the world has led to the democratisation of the sport to an extent that big cricket boards like the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cannot control it anymore and offers more choices to players.

He was addressing the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Cowdrey Lecture, an annual event held by MCC since 2001.

Strauss, England's Ashes-winning skipper who oversaw ECB's High-Performance Review last year, warned the audience that the ongoing shift to T20 leagues in the game could leave "some old institutions creaking at the seams", but believes that the sport will become stronger in the long run.

"In the past, it could be argued that certain interests, whether they lie in this room, or in the corridors of the ECB and other national governing bodies, or on the boundary edges of the county grounds, took precedence over others," he said as quoted by ESPN during his address at Lord's.

"This is no longer the case. No one, not even the BCCI, controls the game anymore. There are too many people involved, too many variables, too much disruption and chaos for anyone to be pulling all the strings. In a sense, the game has democratised. While this is confronting and perhaps difficult to hear for some, I feel like we should be rejoicing in this fact.""The game now has both more freedom and more levers available to allow it to fulfil its purpose than ever before. There is genuine choice for players, spectators and followers alike. The future direction of the sport will be decided not in the meeting halls of the ICC in Dubai but rather by the purchasing power of the increasing number of those who choose to follow the game," concluded Strauss.

Over the years after the emergence of the Indian Premier League in 2008, many T20 league tournaments have emerged across the world, like Big Bash League (Australia), Caribbean Premier League (West Indies), Pakistan Super League (Pakistan), Bangladesh Premier League (Bangladesh), Lanka Premier League (Sri Lanka), SA20 (South Africa), International League T20 (UAE). These leagues have attracted some of the top players in world cricket, like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Faf Du Plessis, David Miller, Jos Buttler, Kagiso Rabada, Quinton de Kock etc.

In his lecture, he also warned that the "macho banter" in cricket needs to come to end and it can "verge on bullying". He added that recent revelations about institutional racism in sport had proven that the game has not evolved enough to meet obligations of the modern world.

"The spirit of cricket needs to accompany modern players, and I am speaking primarily about the men's game now, into an area that neither the prying eyes of the media or the feverish adulation of the fans penetrates -- the dressing room," Strauss said.

"As we move forward together as a game with players of different genders, races, creed and beliefs coming together, so the traditional macho, hierarchical, perhaps at times verging on 'bullying' dressing-room banter will need to be softened to a culture that is more tolerant, understanding, welcoming and embracing of difference.""The events over the last 18 months, whether they come from Yorkshire or elsewhere, have shown we have a lot of work to do in this area, but the Spirit of Cricket demands this. From a players' point of view there will clearly need to be an awareness that the world is watching every move that they make in a way that was never the case previously, both on and off the pitch. With more opportunities and rewards comes more scrutiny and intrusion." "While in the past players might have been able to swallow the odd invisible pill, these days they are likely to be in short supply. In addition, the best players, wherever they hail from, will have to weigh up their own personal aims and ambitions alongside their loyalty to their own countries and formative teams. This may lead to some hard soul-searching, but in the name of the spirit of the game, it must be done," concluded Strauss. (ANI)

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