The Indian Premier League began in 2008 and since then it has truly become “India ka thyohaar”. It has attracted not only foreign players and coaches but also youngsters from our country. Domestic talent is something that has always been overlooked in the cricket crazy country. The creamy layer from the domestic pool is selected to represent the country while the rest are either ignored or are not given the opportunity, pushing them into oblivion. Here is where IPL comes to the rescue.
IPL provides a much larger and better platform than any other domestic event like the Ranji trophy does. The viewership of the event is off the roof. It gives one the feel and enthusiasm of an international match. This is a boon for any youngster picked up by an IPL franchise. Interaction and comradeship with foreign players increases their level of exposure. The opportunity to share a dressing room with renowned players like Shane Watson, Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers can have a positive influence on them. The best example is our own captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose leadership skills along with a refreshing coolness during testing situations is a skill to be learnt. The guidance provided by foreign coaches like Gary Kirsten, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid can help in honing the fundamentals of youngsters and also the ability to play on different cricketing surfaces. Most of them have also played in the previous editions of the IPL. Ricky Ponting is one such stalwart; he had a successful stint with Mumbai Indians and then turned into their coach. He was quoted saying, “It's great to see what IPL is doing by promoting the youngsters and we are all getting a look at them. I always talk about how you judge how good some of these young Indian players are.”
The dynamics of a multicultural team is different from that of a domestic team and thus emerging players are more likely to learn about effective teamwork. They function at a whole new level, applying elementary skills thoroughly and communicating the requirements to players or captains more effectively. All players are coached to be at their peak of physical and mental fitness. It is the players in the Indian Cricket team that have greatly benefitted by playing with diverse cricketers in all fields. Australians and South African Cricket Teams have been regarded as one of the top fielding units in modern day cricket. Sri Lankans and West Indians have a plethora of all-rounders and game changers at their disposal. The inter mixing of all of them have given the Indian cricketers an edge over the others. It is almost like taking the qualities from every team and injecting them into one. Suresh Raina and Ajinkya Rahane gained reputation as the team’s anchors during tight situations; the former can also be explosive if that’s the need of the hour. Average fielders like Ravichandran Ashwin have become more productive. Ravindra Jadeja improved his bowling and has also become a handy batsman at No.6 or No.7. Late bloomers like Stuart Binny and Shikhar Dhawan were able to augment their images as worthy cricketers on the back of laudable IPL performances. The emergence of these players is testimonial to the advantages of hosting a league like this.
It’s easy to derive that IPL helps in forming a cricketing identity. The faster it is developed, the easier it is to adapt to different conditions. Examples of emerging domestic talents are players like Sanju Sampson and Axar Patel. Sandeep Hooda of Rajasthan Royals is the latest of the emerging talents in the 8th edition of IPL. His bowling (20 runs in 4 overs against Delhi Daredevils) and batting prowess (54 in 25 balls against the same opposition) has already made him an early contender for the ‘Emerging Player of the Season’ award. In a column for espncricinfo.com, Ian Chappell mentioned an instance (in 2010) in which Rohit Sharma attracted the attention of the selectors by surviving a devastating spell by the legendary Shane Warne. So, from a young age these players can develop the nerve to see through tight matches.
Many view IPL as a money spinner’s paradise, but they fail to understand its long term advantages to our country’s domestic talent. There was a time when people rarely bothered about what goes on in first class cricket matches. Slowly, they started to follow them to keep a tab on their favourite youngsters. This sudden resurgence has inspired many more youngsters to consider cricket as a career and a means of livelihood. IPL has had a significant impact on the outlook towards Indian cricket and its domestic talent pool.