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‘IPL should allow foreign players to be loaned just like football’

The Indian Premier League (IPL)’s four-foreigner per match policy results in a lot of talented players missing out on game time and a loan system will be quite beneficial for them.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 11, 2017 12:59 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
IPL 2017,Tymal Mills,Faf Du Plessis
Rising Pune Supergiant’s Faf Du Plessis has played just two matches for his team this season.(IPL)

Foreign players add glamour, class and quality to the Indian Premier League and make India’s domestic tournament a truly global event. IPL would not be the event it is without the brilliance of a Gayle, de Villiers, Warner or Rashid Khan.

When foreign players are asked about their experience of playing in India, the answer invariably is a thumbs up. Like children reciting set pieces in the school assembly, they quickly list IPL’s advantages – great crowds, and the amazing passion of fans.

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However scripted, this is not fake. Players believe IPL is the best thing to happen to cricket since Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket.

Transforming players

While Kevin Pietersen is a one-man PR machine for IPL, the event’s ability to offer life-changing contracts is best illustrated by Tymal Mills, an honest English county cricketer. Mills, not on any national contract, plied his trade in various leagues across the world, in Bangladesh, Australia, Pakistan. In BBL he was not worth very much, PSL offered him $50000 and he was unsold in the CPL. In IPL, his price went through the roof, a staggering Rs 12 crore, roughly equal to his 15 years’ earnings in England.

Non-playing foreigners

The IPL enriches and enhances foreign players, but it also disrespects and diminishes the established. This season, think of Faf Du Plessis, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson, Angelo Mathews, Eoin Morgan, all top stars, and current captains of their national sides. None has had a decent run in the IPL, benched most of the time, carrying drinks and discharging reserve player duties instead of battling in the middle. Usman Khawaja, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Darren Sammy are other international players performing peripheral roles in IPL.

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More than established stars sitting out due to the cap on four foreign players in the XI, the larger question is about fans being denied a chance to celebrate their skills. The four-foreigner rule is meant to promote Indian talent in an Indian tournament. With franchises hiring nine foreign players, their opportunities of making the eleven are limited. The IPL rules deal a double blow to those foreign players who miss out. Every ‘non selection’ results in a pay cut, a player possibly losing up to 20% of his contracted amount per season.

Fifth foreigner

There is a push to seek a rule change and squeeze in a fifth foreign player in an IPL XI to prevent “talent wastage”, create opportunities for stars and raise the quality of play. But this is unlikely to fly with IPL management.

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An alternative solution is the football style system where unwanted assets are loaned to other teams subject to conditions. It appears more workable and is worth consideration. Such loans could be allowed only after a season’s halfway stage and the transferred player does not turn out against his original team. Commercial issues of players loaned can be addressed smoothly.

The player loan is a win-win for players, teams and fans. Had this option been available, Delhi would happily have picked Du Plessis, who was being wasted in the Pune dugout!

(Amrit Mathur is a former sports administrator who worked with the BCCI as a media manager)

First Published: May 11, 2017 12:53 IST