Over the first four years of the IPL, Australian players have dominated the league like no other country. An assertion substantiated by the hordes of players from Down Under who’ve landed lucrative IPL deals, and the presence of an Australian player in the squad of every IPL champion.
This season, however, the Aussie players haven’t been in the spotlight as in the past. Brad Hodge has played a few blinders, Shaun Marsh has chipped in at times, Doug Bollinger has taken the odd crucial wicket, but by and large, the Aussie presence has been rather subdued.
All that, however, could change as five of the six Australians in the West Indies tour have joined their respective franchises, with the sixth, David Warner, expected to join the Delhi Daredevils in two days.
Watson's the man
Rajasthan Royals’ first-season MVP Shane Watson joined the squad on Monday and was part of an optional training session at the Rajasthan Cricket Association’s academy ground.
The Daredevils will be Watson’s first opponents. Coach of the league leaders, Eric Simons, feels the burly all-rounder could be the most important of the Aussie players. “Watson will make a huge difference for the Royals because he's a batsman and bowler. Others like Michael Clarke, a pure batsman, may not have as much as an impact," said Simons on the eve of the match against the Royals.
Clarke’s Pune Warriors’ teammate Ashish Nehra, however, felt Clarke’s contributions wouldn’t be restricted to the runs that come off his blade. “Clarke is a value addition to the team. He is the Australia captain and apart from batting, he can be very handy with his left-arm bowling,” said Nehra.
Simons' own Australian recruit Warner was not among those who made the direct trip from the West Indies. He's gone for a short trip to Australia and will join the squad on Thursday.