Is the IPL really going to be played on a level field? Or is there a caste system already developing in the modern, democratic version of a once-imperial, gentleman’s game?
Take the case of Abhishek Nayar, the Mumbai all-rounder who performed well at the first season of IPL and had his annual wage hiked from $50,000 to $100,000 for the second season. He might not even get a dekko on the field in the Mumbai Indians team as he’ll be battling for a spot with South African JP Duminy. “Where will Nayar fit in?” said a Mumbai Indians official.
Even if Duminy fails in a couple of matches, will the Mumbai Indians bench him, having forked out $950,000 for his services?
But there is a bigger worry than getting to actually play. Domestic players may not even receive the same treatment as their foreign counterparts. Last season, some IPL teams resorted to booking Indian players in lower grade hotels than their ‘main’ stars.
In some cases, players from India did not even travel to ‘away matches’ with their teams.
A player like Jaydev Shah, who never got a go with the Rajasthan Royals, has moved this year to the Mumbai team for a better deal.
There’s a growing insecurity among domestic cricketers because of the influx of inexperienced, uncapped foreign players. “It’s one thing to sit out when there’s a Ponting or a Warne around,” said one player. “But guys like George Bailey, Moises Henriques… teams have just picked them up because they were cheap. Even then, they’re more costly than us local players.”
Sour grapes? Legitimate concerns? Watch this pitch.