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MVL Manikantan , Hindustan Times
Mumbai, May 13, 2013
Albie Morkel is going through a demanding phase as player in the past two months. The handy South African all-rounder is among Chennai Super Kings’ premium resources but joined his side only after the sixth edition of the Indian T20 league began.

When Shah Rukh Khan and his troupe were unveiling their razzmatazz during the opening ceremony in Kolkata, Morkel was sweating it out back home. The Titans were in contention for the T20 title and a lot depended on his prowess. In the end, Titans finished runners-up.

But Morkel —an established name in limited-overs circuit — last played an ODI in March, 2012. His last T20 international was at the Sri Lanka World Cup in October. South Africa have played ODI and T20I series since then, against New Zealand and Pakistan, but without Morkel.

As much as it throws light on the competition for a berth in the South Africa side, Morkel has taken to plying his trade worldwide. Last year, he was part of Chennai Super Kings, Kandurata Warriors (Sri Lankan Premier League) and Somerset (England domestic T20s); signed up and later withdrew from the Australian Big Bash League (Perth Scorchers) apart from the stint with Titans.

Crowded calendar
The newly launched Caribbean Premier League will join the party soon, scheduled from July 29 to August 26. It is too early to ascertain whether it would be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, but already Sri Lanka want a postponement as their own version starts on August 10. However, players out of national reckoning or aspiring to make a mark won' mind a bit of crowding as long as they get to play.

Although the money each league offers varies substantially, these tournaments promise to change the dynamics of the global game besides giving players past their prime a big incentive to push on.

Brad Hodge is as much a household name in Jaipur (Rajasthan Royals) as he is in Melbourne. The 38-year-old is in the process of also adding Colombo (Basnahira Cricket Dundee) and Barisal (Barisal Burners) to his travel list.

Azhar Mahmood is a pioneer as a T20 pioneer, having played all over - Surrey, Kings XI Punjab, Auckland Aces, Syndey Thunder and Wayamba being the big ones. Hodge and Mahmood are not alone. Andrew Symonds, Herschelle Gibbs, Chris Gayle, Dirk Nannes, Kieron Pollard and uncapped South African Alfonso Thomas have all turned out for multiple franchises.

Stepping stone
While on one end the veterans march on, there are also plenty of youngsters who want to use these leagues as a route to the national team. Local players looking to get a toehold in these teams also form a big number.

In 2008, Shane Watson's performance in the Indian league propelled him back into the Australia side. The youngsters who look set to benefit from doing well in these leagues are David Miller, James Faulkner, Sachithra Senanayake, Kevon Cooper and Chris Morris - all playing in multiple T20 leagues.

Former Sri Lanka skipper Sanath Jayasuriya welcomed the opportunities for players, but sounded a note of caution. “They are good money-wise also. You have to enjoy the cricket, it is a fast game. But the players have to be careful what they do, what they play. Young players can slowly build up on these leagues but their priority has to be Test cricket.”