As the fourth season of the Indian Premier League i.e. IPL 4 reaches to the final stages its impact is being felt all across. Even though many have been talking about it for three years now, IPL 4 is finally witnessing the worst fears of club cricket eating into a player’s ‘regular’ career come true.
Perhaps the biggest impact that the IPL-4 has had would be on the immediate future of two Indians stalwarts Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
The Delhi boys chose to play IPL in spite of nagging injuries sustained during national duty in the World Cup 2011. Sehwag happily went in for corrective shoulder surgery as soon as it was clear that Delhi Daredevils won’t make it beyond the league stage but Gambhir kept his injury woes under wraps till the eve of his final match.
Reports suggested that Gambhir might miss the last IPL match and the West Indies tour but he decided to don Kolkata Knight Riders colors for the qualifier against Mumbai Indians. Gambhir is a big blow as he was to lead India in MS Dhoni’s absence and along with Sehwag he will now join the like Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh who had decided to skip the Caribbean tour. Their decision to put franchise before country would now fuel a great debate but no amount of talk can fill the void.
Barring its name the IPL seems to be benefiting Australian cricket more than anyone else. No matter which general direction anyone looks in there are all sorts of Australians cricketers- past, present and future filling in the ranks. Most of the coaches and support staff is Australians, at least two franchises have had Australian captains in every IPL season and almost every IPL team has their fair share of prominent rising Australians stars. There is a significant Oz presence even in the ranks of commentators and television studio experts so much so that it seems like the Australians have hijacked IPL!
The IPL has been almost like a summer training camp for younger Australian players like Shaun and Mitchell Marsh as well as David Warner and it has been a post retirement plan for legends like Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne.
Comparatively IPL hasn’t really contributed any shining Indian star but at least it has given players like Paul Valthaty, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary a place in the blueprint of life.
Even though Australians are benefiting from IPL many former greats like Ian Chappell have laughed at the option of an ICC window to make IPL ‘official’, something that is forcing players to pick sides. In some cases gifted players have decided to even walk away from an international career to concentrate on IPL. Even when his contract wasn’t renewed by the Australian board Andrew Synmonds didn’t cry foul for a place in Mumbai Indians would keep the cash register ringing. The mercurial Chris Gayle, who single-handedly took Royal Challengers Bangalore to the top of the table, has always been West Indian cricket’s favorite whipping boy but now with IPL he has no problem in suggesting that he might retire from test cricket to ‘concentrate’ on IPL!
With just two more matches left IPL-4 has made one thing very clear that sooner or later players would have to decide their one format of the game to excel in. It would be interesting to see whether young cricketers chose to be Michael Clarke, who happily skipped IPL fearing a burnout which would hamper his chances of playing for Australia, or Sehwag/ Gambhir who aggravated their injuries to answer the call of franchises.