When people talk about the IPL, they always refer to the player salaries and razzamatazz; and, in both these areas, the league has taken cricket to a new level, presenting the game in a way that has not been done before, and creating a platform for players to receive market-related remuneration.
What people don’t talk about, and what they may not appreciate, is the extraordinary impact of the IPL on our sport, specifically the information-sharing impact of gathering the world’s leading players in one league, divided among eight franchises competing over two months.
I learn more during each IPL than in the other 44 weeks of the year.
The experience of being surrounded by world-class players day after day, match after match, and taking the opportunity to meet them, talk to them and watch them go about their business amounts to nothing more than top-class education.
Best practices are everywhere --- in the warm-up drills and the way individual batsmen and bowlers prepare for a match; in the field placings at the start, in the middle and end of each game, in the ever-evolving tactics and strategies of T20 cricket. It’s in the way players overcome the challenges of travel, in the way players interact with the media, engage with supporters and calmly embrace the necessity of photo shoots and commercial appearances.
We come from different countries, backgrounds and traditions, but we play the same game and nobody knows everything. That is why, to every single player involved in this competition, every day delivers a gilt-edged invitation to look and learn, and to improve.
From a personal perspective, it’s hard to exaggerate how much I have benefitted from being involved in nine editions of the IPL. Getting to know the likes of Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Stephen Fleming, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli and others, seeing them perform first hand, often as teammates, spending time with them after matches, listening to them about the game and chatting about life in general.
The writer is a RCB batsman