The inaugural season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) witnessed a mad scramble amongst the franchises to lap up international players. On the other hand, the domestic players, especially those from the age-group categories, had a relatively easy passage as they were picked up purely on recommendation of the state associations and individuals.
This year though, it’s not going to be that simple. The franchises have the searchlight trained firmly on the domestic circuit to unearth talent, what with the Kolkata team holding a 3-day trial and selection camp in Kolkata some time back, and the Mohali team scheduled to conduct a Twenty20 tournament in Chandigarh.
Mohali, owned by Ness Wadia and Preity Zinta, have sent out invitations to states in their catchment area to send teams for the tournament, which is likely towards end January. “We have received an invitation and we will be sending our best team,” said a Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association official, while hoping to secure more berths for its players this time.
The reason for this newfound interest amongst the franchises could be partly attributed to the feeling that quite a few players were ‘accommodated’ last time. “A couple of players we had last time didn’t suit the T20 format too well. Besides, some good players from our catchment area were poached by other franchises as they weren’t recommended to us,” an official had complained last year.
The other reason is the new replacement rule put forth by the IPL governing council this year. The rule bans short-term replacement contracts, except when the player is not available for the entire season.
Against this backdrop, a franchise would obviously want to have good backup at its disposal to meet the exigency of some players leaving in the middle of the tournament.
With most of the international stars already taken, it is only natural for the focus to shift to the domestic pool.