April 11, 2010

The IPL: where young players get noticed

Playing with international stars, and triumphing against them, will help cricketers like Rohit Sharma and David Warner make strong cases for being given runs in their national sides

On a warm night in Nagpur, the IPL was seen in all its glory. Forget talk about obscene amounts of money, disregard for a moment the scantily clad cheerleaders, overlook the fawning celebrities and concentrate on the game: a tension-filled, competitive cricket match. Here was Shane Warne bowling at his wily best.

He spun the ball and a web around nervous, fidgety batsmen. This eventually led to a wicket, and amid the celebration Warne implored his team-mates to believe, to imagine that a glorious, much-needed victory was at hand.

When he wasn't dispensing devious deliveries, Warne was wracking his brain and waving his arms. He moved fieldsmen from outposts into threatening positions; he ignored the physical danger to his team-mates in order to further intimidate nervous opponents. He employed fielding positions that sent a message to both sides that we, the Royals, can win this game.

It was vintage Warne on all counts. His bowling was threatening and his captaincy was imaginative with a touch of genius. If a genius does oscillate between brilliance and madness, Warne was one minute Picasso, the next van Gogh. But mostly he was a leader who had the support of his players and the attention of his opponents. In the end his aggressive plotting prevailed, while the brave and resourceful Rohit Sharma's efforts fell just short. The Rajasthan Royals beat the Deccan Chargers by a whisker. But the result was only a minor detail, if not for the protagonists then at least for the game.

Here for all to see, the baying crowd at the stadium and the vast television audience, was Twenty20 cricket in its best light. A cricket contest of infinite skill and strategy, not one relegated by the flashy dancers and flouncing celebrities to sideshow status. This is a crucial point. For all the hype about being a billion-dollar industry, attracting Bollywood stars and rampant egos, the IPL does a lot of good for cricket - for both the game and the individuals who play it.

At a time when some international captains are content to allow opposing batsmen to score easy runs without putting their wicket at risk, thereby allowing the middle overs of ODIs to become more pedestrian than a jaywalker, Warne offered a viable alternative to these timid tactics.

And here was Rohit, a young Indian batsman of abundant skill, displaying the complementary nerve that is required to succeed at the highest level. The question is not whether Rohit has the skill to make it as a batsman in all forms of the game but whether the selectors will ignore his talents for so long that his best years will be past when he's finally chosen.

Having survived and prospered against Warne's devastating spell and taunting tactics will do wonders for Rohit's confidence. Hopefully it will also convince the selectors that he is a batsman for all seasons, not just the silly one.

For all the hype about being a billion-dollar industry, attracting Bollywood stars and rampant egos, the IPL does a lot of good for cricket - for both the game and the individuals who play it

This was a classic example of how the IPL's multicultural format, which puts Indian and international cricketers in the same arena, can benefit the game worldwide. In this case it was a former Australian player helping, albeit inadvertently, the cause of a talented young Indian cricketer.

In another example of the IPL's benefits, the young Australian tearaway David Warner seems to be benefitting from a close association with the Indian maestro of mayhem, Virender Sehwag. To witness close up and have the opportunity to talk to Sehwag about his modus operandi is an extraordinary piece of good fortune for Warner.

Like Rohit, Warner is in danger of being typecast. In his case as a hitter rather than what he really is: a batsman with explosive power. If Warner learns anything from Sehwag that helps him convince the first-class selectors back home that he should be playing all forms of the game as an ultra-aggressive opener, it will benefit him and Australian cricket.

Warner has already scored an IPL century under the watchful eye of Sehwag, and hopefully this won't go unnoticed in Australia. What also shouldn't be overlooked is that despite its occasional crass excesses, the IPL does offer much that benefits the game of cricket.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Karthi Keyan on April 13, 2010, 4:48 GMT

    Is this "actually" an article by Ian Chappell. Surprised but quite thrilled too. Excellent. Hits the nail on the head.

  • harshesh on April 13, 2010, 3:47 GMT

    youngster will learn only how to play in t20 format. I do not see any young player who have not played test cricket yet can develop the techniques that is required to play test cricket. Sure they will be noticed but to me they are in danger of killing their potential carrier out side the t20 world. Bottom line is test cricket brings the quality out of a player, not the bang bang type of cricket

  • Terry on April 13, 2010, 2:24 GMT

    T20 will be good for cricket if it aims at new cricket markets. IPL should be called DPL (Domestic Premier League) and be played in a different country every 3 months over a 4 year rotation. In addition to India & South Africa (last year), countries could include America, China, Canada and other G20 economic countries. This would increase attention to the game whilst increasing revenue for domestic boards without overdoing the brand of the IPL. Additionally there should be an addition to the rule that players can only play IF they make themselves available to their country unless they are over 35 years of age. This would ensure that players dont retire early to play in the IPL like some players are currently doing.

  • rohit on April 12, 2010, 23:08 GMT

    "The question is not whether Rohit has the skill to make it as a batsman in all forms of the game but whether the selectors will ignore his talents for so long that his best years will be past when he's finally chosen. " Really??? How many chances does he have to be given? He has the potential to go the Sachin Tendulkar way or the Kambli way... He has to choose.... Wisely.

  • VENKATACHALAM on April 12, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    A game of infinite skill and strategy? T20? Where a bowler does not need to really strain his body and mind to dismiss any batsmen, just alone restrict the runs by bowling stupid slower balls and overpitched balls as close to the wide line on the off side. Really after all these years of cricket watching what is this crap chappelly?

  • Apyboutit on April 12, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    I disagree Ian. IPL is just entertainment. That's it. It is neither "crass", nor a threat to cricket, nor a disgrace to it, nor the beginning of any end. It is just like a wedding party with a lot of talented artists. IPL may teach a young'un the tactics of winning. But definitely not the tactics of batting et bowling. It is sad that Rohit is praised for "gritting it out" against Warne, for the "whole 8 balls"! He has done more worthy things this IPL that suggest his efforts towards graduation than that "inning". His performance is still less than Suman, Vijay, the Ojhas', P Chawla, A. Mishra, Lumb, Junjun, Jakati, Voges, Vinay, et al. when put in context. Anyway, Rohit has in deed been selected in all forms of the game, in all away tours over the past two yrs. He has not even clicked in the domestic season over the past 2 yrs. BTW, Warner hasn't got anything other than the 100* to show either. Selectors note. AND ... it was Gr8 to watch the Sachin-Warne duel again!

  • Raghuraman on April 12, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Ian has been trying to back/prop up IPL with his comments but cant see why he is doing it. We have players like Sachin, Kumble, Warne, Gilchrist etc doing well in IPL, but what is the point? Where are the so called 'youngsters', which IPL is supposed to throw up in dozens? If one 'young promise' shows up in one IPL and hopefully if he is from India, that is such a poor returns for this 'money spinner'. I dont understand the point in Sachin or Ganguly making 50s, Kumble or Warne showing their skill with the ball and the rest of the team being spectators stading inside the cricket ground.

  • Sandeep on April 12, 2010, 10:14 GMT

    Ian Chappell is an old Aussie cocky. He also knows what he is talking about. And that for sure is cricket, my friends. His three generations have only done cricket. His comments on the Indian Popular League obsession is extremly forthright and on the dotted thinking. Cricket, when first played was only about a bat and a ball. The rest of the things related to its tradition, technique, rules and strategies have developed later. To me, T-20 cricket has brought back the nuances of the great game to what it actually started with - a bat and a ball. Its taken a full circle. Whether you like it or hate it, its still cricket. I agree, cricket of any form will strive and give enjoyment. People who bicker on the format must look at the development of the history of the game. Changes do not end the biggeining, they only add to the biggening. The changed great game still cherishes us all. Cricket lovers like Ian Chappell only add to the mystirical history and golden glory of the great game.

  • Harshad on April 12, 2010, 9:09 GMT

    Ian Chappel is not writing about Sachin's innings. This is totally expected. He is never behind though when it comes to criticising him. God bless him!! (I mean Sachin)

  • Ishan on April 12, 2010, 6:17 GMT

    I am really surprised that Ian Chapell would write such an article. I have been a very keen observer of cricket for the past 17 years. According to me T-20 has been a disaster for cricket. It has destroyed the techniques of young cricketers. Young cricketers have lost the patience that is the most important virtue of the game. Playing well for a short period of time like in a T-20 does not make one a great cricketer. the ultimate test for a cricketer is proving his mettle in a test or a 50 over game. all great cricketers to have played the game have great records in the test arena. IPL has added fuel to an already raging fire. It has given importance to club over country. IPL has brought those people into the game who nothing about cricket. How many owners of the franchisees really know anything about cricket.? it is really sad to see my wonderful game cricket to be reduced to this level. I hope sanity will prevail and ICC bans IPL and regulates the amount of T-20 being played.

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