The Indian Premier League, like all other T20 leagues around the globe, thrives on the twin factors of a strong pool of domestic players serving as the backbone of the competition along with an exciting pool of overseas stars giving it a global flair and flamboyance.
Now, imagine a scenario where some of those very exciting overseas players refuse to turn up for the tournament owing to some bigger emotions of national pride at work. Such a loss indeed takes some sheen away from the marquee T20 league but, at the same time, it gives the domestic pool a chance to come out with flying colours.
The 12th season of IPL is nearing its middle phase now and one can truly say that it hasn’t fallen short in the entertainment quotient despite coming face-to-face a scenario of aforementioned kind.
Foreign Players Prioritise National Duties
The money factor in IPL is a very potent force which attracts players from all around the world and it is this factor which, at times, brings a player at a crossroad where he gets torn between the national emotions and professional jurisprudence. It’s a very difficult choice to make, especially when a player hails from a country with low pay cheques. Still, for some, national pride always comes first while others, some rare beings, chose to go with the secure future.
Before the auctions for the 12th season went underway, many overseas cricketers decided to pull out of the auctions in order to focus on the bigger task ahead ie, the Cricket World Cup 2019.
A slew of Australian cricketers, which included established T20 names like Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, chose to prioritise their national commitments over the allure of heavy money from the league. There were also some injury concerns which robbed IPL of some more overseas stars in Adam Milne (Mumbai Indians), Lungi Ngidi (Chennai Super Kings) and Anrich Nortje (Kolkata Knight Riders).
The protective policy of Bangladesh Cricket Board of not granting the No-objection Certificate to Mustafizur Rahman brought down curtains over his participation this year while English all-rounder David Willey had some personal issues to deal with. All these factors led to a heavy dent in the overseas shine of IPL.
If the majority of Australian cricketers, barring some like Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, David Warner, and Steve Smith, directly withdrew from participation, English Cricket Board, on the other hand, had earlier issued clear instructions about their players’ recall mid-way from the tournament in order to prepare for their international fixtures before the biggest ODI event.
With such lustrous talent out of the league, it was expected that Indian domestic players will take the full toll of the opportunity in hand and will come out with such match-winning performances which will bode well not only for their respective franchises but also for team India’s future.
Windies Cricketers Can Call IPL 2019 Their Own
If we are to consider the on-field action which has transpired so far, a different national dominance comes to fore in our scrutiny. Though it’s called Indian Premier League but up till the 24th game between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), West Indian cricketers hold every right to call this tournament as their own because of the scintillating performances they have delivered from their skill-sets.
Be it Andre Russell, who has amassed 257 runs from just 5 innings at a mind-blowing average of 128.50 and boasts of a monstrous strike-rate of 212.40, or Chris Gayle (223 runs from 6 innings coming at a strike-rate of 158.16) or Keiron Pollard (179 runs at 44.75 runs apiece coming at a strike-rate of 194.57) or Alzarri Joseph (debuting with the best IPL bowling figures ever of 6 wickets for 12 runs to secure a win for Mumbai), the calypso beats have been at the forefront of entertainment provided by IPL thus far.
Russell and Pollard now have outright strong contributions in three winning causes for their teams while Alzarri has played such a role on two occasions – once with the ball and recently with his calm batting under pressure.
Then there are the old warhorses like Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine and Dwayne Bravo (remember his precision death bowling against Rajasthan Royals?) who now hold their names proudly in the folklore of their franchises or of the teams of which they have been a part of, purely because of their immense contribution to the team’s success over the years. Russell and Pollard are continuing the proud work in this season too.
Many other immensely talented Caribbean players haven’t got the stage yet this season. These include the likes of Evin Lewis and Carlos Brathwaite.
With the availability of some key players, especially those from the English soil, in doubt; these bench-warming West Indians will surely find themselves in the thick of the action in the middle, quite soon.
Another good aspect of such a stellar show in IPL for the West Indians is that it bodes well for their World Cup preparations too and especially when Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt has revealed that the board is now looking forward to mending its estranged relationships with some star players such as Darren Sammy among others, to select the strongest possible squad for the World Cup.
Surely, such a move will bring together the best of the West Indian talent together for the Caribbean cause in the English summer and the purple patch acquired during the IPL by the likes of Russell, Gayle, Pollard and Joseph will definitely give a huge boost to the Caribbean claim on the coveted World Cup trophy.
(The writer is an avid follower who can't get enough of cricket to satisfy his hunger for the game and is trying to make a mark in the field of cricket writing.)
. Read more on IPL by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsElectoral Bonds: No Stay by SC, Parties to Reveal Donations to EC . Read more on IPL by The Quint.