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Over the first few years of the IPL, it had an image of ‘wild’ cheerleaders, players at late night parties drinking vodka through yard-glasses, models parading nude through hotels at 5 am in the morning, cash being burnt as fuel in fire-places, and the ‘hit-and-giggle’ cricket being an afterthought to every sin imaginable.
At least that’s what IPL detractors would have you think. However the truth is very different.
Contrary to any negative sentiments outsiders may hold, the players treat the IPL as a serious tournament, played with terrific intent and passion by many of the best cricketers in the world. It’s a high value, high pressure and cutthroat event where good form is rewarded, and poor form is condemned.
But the IPL has done much more than simply create a new event on the cricketing calendar or even ‘bolster player bank accounts’. It has become a melting pot of cricketing ideas and backgrounds. It’s a place where cricket tactics are shared among players from all corners of the cricketing world.
I believe one of the IPL’s biggest contributions to the game has been the breaking down of the social and personal barriers between rival teams from around the world. No other tournament in world cricket has ever brought together so many differing cricketing backgrounds and personalities into one team dressing room.
Who could possibly think of putting Paul Collingwood and Daniel Vettori in the same Delhi Daredevils dressing room months after the run out incident at The Oval in 2008, or putting Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh together in Mumbai after ‘monkey-gate’. It’s not just these guys but many others who have been vicious adversaries on field, to become teammates in the IPL. And not only have these players shared dressing rooms, but often they’ve become friends.
The IPL has taught me that no matter what political, religious or social differences there are between countries or teams, each dressing room is filled with the same characters. Every team in the world has the practical joker, the serious guy, the musician, or the dancer. They all have the guy that can’t swim, the one that hates the gym, the ladies man, and the family man. They also have the guy who wants to win at all costs, the guy who sledges, and the calm guy who’s cool in a crisis. But most importantly of all, they all have great people.
It doesn’t seem to matter how hard they play on a pitch, how aggressively they sledge, how quiet they are, or how good or bad their ability, each team has people who are caring, people who are great to go out with, people who are terrific to chat to, and people who make you laugh.
Every IPL team brings together good people. We’re different in our own way, but we share a common passion for the game. We each share the love of good, hard and tough cricket, but also love the camaraderie, teamwork and fun that team sport brings. We love sharing our time with good people.
Cricket seems to do that. It’s another reason why I’m so very fortunate to be a cricketer.
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