Considered the big bump on the road for international cricket not so long ago, Twenty20 leagues around the world are the new reality, a springboard for new faces as well as old hands looking to underscore their worth.
None exemplifies this changed dynamics better than Jasprit Bumrah, the Gujarat seamer, who has made such an impression in the limited-overs series in Australia that he is a contender for the World T20 in India (March 15-April 3).
The IPL was launched on the strength of big players, but that has changed. Both the India and Australia leagues depend heavily on homegrown talent and players now use lessons learnt in the leagues to hit the ground running when they break into their national side. The IPL franchise scouts are proving the extra spotters for the national selectors.
Bumrah was picked by former India coach John Wright for Mumbai Indians after watching him in the Mushtaq Ali domestic T20s. He dismissed Virat Kohli on IPL debut in 2013, even before he had played first-class cricket.
MS Dhoni said in Australia that he hardly gets to watch domestic talent. Being yorked by Bumrah during Jharkhand’s Vijay Hazare campaign against eventual winners Gujarat would have given the skipper an idea of what the newcomer, sent in as injury replacement for Mohammed Shami, can bring to the India setup.
The Indian summer will arrive early, with the IPL players’ auction to be held on February 6. India then play a three-match series against Sri Lanka before the Asia Cup T20 in Bangladesh. The WT20 will be followed by the IPL.
India’s series victory in Australia has left everyone looking for more heroics in a packed T20 season. For players, it will provide money (IPL auctions) before getting down to chasing glory for the country. The franchises would have sorted their teams while national selectors can get some useful tips on what influenced the selection of a certain player by a franchise.
With the top order in roaring form, India’s original IPL child, Manish Pandey, may not easily get the selectors’ nod for WT20 despite the ODI century at Sydney. But Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra will hope to get the nod of club and country, after both seasoned players contributed with the ball in the Australia T20s.
Chris Gayle is arguably the biggest impact player in T20 --- he equalled the fastest T20 fifty during the Big Bash League – and will be happy on both counts, having earned his spot in the West Indies squad for the WT20 as well.
One player who is sure to generate a lot of interest in the auctions is Bangladesh pacer Mustafizur Rehman, 20, who made a sensational debut against India last year.
While teams change selection and playing tactics, IPL team bosses are upbeat about the brand value. “People have spoken about IPL losing its charm, but during the presentation (franchise workshop in Mumbai in January) we saw that 90% (sponsorship) money was spent on cricket, and 70% of it on IPL. So, whatever the parameters, it has been a success,” Fraser Castellino, Kings XI Punjab, COO, told the IPL website recently.