‘Thought it was a joke,’ England allrounder recalls being approached for IPL contract by Sachin Tendulkar
Luke Wright, the English cricketer who has played 101 internationals for England has revealed he could not believe the time when Sachin Tendulkar approached him personally and asked him if he’d play for IPL franchise Mumbai Indians. Wright, one of the early pioneers of T20 cricket, who is known for his pinch-hitting and variations in medium-pace said it was almost a matter of disbelief when he got a call from the batting legend.
“If I had been able to have the experience with these franchises and different leagues before playing for England, which a lot of the players are doing either during or before, now, is such an advantage,” Wright said on the first episode of Wisden and CricViz’s The Greatest T20 podcast.
“I remember missing out on one of the IPLs actually. I thought it was a joke – Sachin Tendulkar rang me to go and play for the Mumbai Indians in one of the first IPLs, and I obviously thought it was the lads taking the mick.
“I remember talking to the ECB about it, and it was me and Ravi Bopara both got told that if we were to go, we would be pretty much giving up playing for England. Whereas you look now and England are paying their compensations to go and play. I don’t think back then they appreciated that sharing the dressing room [would be like] with, well Sachin obviously for one.”
Once Wright knew he was pushed down the pecking order as far as his England chances were concerned, he signed an IPL contract with the now-defunct Pune Warriors India. Wright ended up playing just seven IPL games but admits to have gained from the limited experience he had with some of T20 cricket’s giants.
“When I went to Pune, you got Yuvraj [Singh], [Aaron] Finch, Angelo Mathews, [Ross] Taylor, you can reel off all these names, and you just stood there in the nets, learning how they go about it, asking questions, they’re giving you tips, and that was just huge for me as a learning curve, and you’re then playing in different conditions. In terms of learning, it’s the best. It’s under pressure, you’re there as an overseas player, people expect you to perform, but you are learning,” Wright said.
“I think, I became a far better player probably when I was 27, 28 because of those experiences than at times when I was playing for England.”