The IPL is such a freakish tournament on the world cricketing schedule for various reasons. Within India it is gigantic, but outside of India – especially in the UK – it seems to have as many critics as supporters. Many see it as a contaminant, feasting away at the fabric of world cricket, while others see it as an influence for good, promoting aggressive cricket across all forms of the game.
One of the unique outlooks of the IPL is how each team becomes a loving pot of the world’s cricketing philosophies, characters and strategy. Lets have Royal Challengers Bangalore as my dressing room as an example. We have a mixture of South African, Australian, New Zealand, Sri Lankan, West Indian and Indian players. Before IPL, this kind of combination could only occur in rare one-off World XI games.
Mixed with a relaxed Chris Gayle, who snoozes sixteen hours a day, the team have the busy, up-and-coming Indian icon Virat Kohli, who doesn’t snooze at all. Some could see this as a source of battle, but in the world of IPL nothing could be further from the truth. The IPL is a tournament that carries much of the world’s cricketing talent together in a six-week eruption of cricket collaboration. It’s obvious that players learn from each other, work out each other’s tricks on how to play certain bowlers, or how to bowl to different batsmen.
It’s an wonderful array of talent and opposing opinions in the changing room, and on display at the grounds. But while the IPL can help a cricketer by opening them up to new experiences, it still remains a source of battle.
Having a look at West Indies spinner Sunil Narine as an example. A player of amazing talent, he took wickets for fun in this year’s IPL.But many would say he must instead have made his Test debut against Australia, rather than taking cash on offer with KKR in the IPL. On one hand, there’s the contract with his IPL franchise, worth $700,000. On the other, a Test debut for his side (for which he might not keep a contract) and a payment of a few thousand dollars. If he chose the other side, the IPL rules mean he’d lose $315,000 of his contract.
Do you take the $700,000, secure your future, and simply delay what appears to be an anticipated debut for an extra few months? It’s a huge decision for a man who is yet to turn 24. The IPL creates many questions to world cricket: some good, some bad, some embarrassing, and some that many boards don’t want to gather. The sooner it can hold its belief and its indelible mark on the game, the sooner it can settle the argument that blights its participants.
Before the IPL, I didn’t know that Murali was the fun-lovin joker, Zaheer the classy wine aficionado, and Kohli the inspired cricketer. While it will always have its detractors, those cynics cannot deny that the IPL has allowed world cricketers to mix beliefs, discuss strategy, and get to know each other on a scale inconceivable before it came into existence. I definitely believe the world of cricket is healthier as a result.