The journey into the unknown is over. All the initial sense of 'new territory being explored' has gone. Every year, there are new players getting their first experience of the IPL and, for them, it will be a brand new experience.
But for those of us, lucky enough to have been involved from the outset, the excitement remains but all the focus is now directed towards winning. We always take the field with the intention of winning, but the glamour and 'distractions' are now all familiar and we can enjoy all those aspects without being caught by surprise.
As professional cricketers, we are trained and conditioned to compete in cricket matches, but the IPL is MORE than just a tournament. The players need to concentrate on what they do best and what they contribute to the event, but we also need to understand the 'bigger picture'.
Some of the biggest salaries in the world are paid at the IPL and we enjoy those — so there's no point in complaining about all the ‘extra’ commitments we have off the field. At the same time, we are desperate to produce our best on the field and there's no doubt there have been times we have felt less well prepared than we'd like before matches.
Balance is key
The trick is, get the balance right, and to do that, I believe, a change of attitude is the key. Instead of worrying about the off-field side of the tournament, we need to embrace it. There have been occasions when I haven't fully enjoyed the functions and parties because I have been concerned about my rest and preparation. This time, I will be concentrating on managing what I can instead of what I can't!
The World Cup is my greatest desire, and I hope I can maintain form and fitness to get there, but winning this tournament is probably second on my wish list. Having said that, it is a marathon, not a sprint --- despite the short time frame it is played over two months. To some degree, results aren't crucial for the first month (unless you lose everything!)
Hawkeye Communications/ Chivach Sports
The writer plays for KKR