Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has given his backing to the under-fire Indian Premier League (IPL). The batsman believes the League has played a key role in promoting young players, who may not gain publicity otherwise.
He told Sports NDTV Cricket: “It’s great to see what IPL is doing by promoting the youngsters and we are all getting a look at them.”
The IPL, founded by Lahit Modi, will no doubt be grateful that such a high-profile figure has come out in support of the beleaguered tournament, particularly given the scathing criticism it has recently received.
England legend Sir Ian Botham has been perhaps its most vehement opponent, and even suggested it should be scrapped earlier this summer.
While it has often been labelled as little more than a money-spinner for greedy players looking to earn a fast buck, Ponting insists that national sides – especially India – have benefited from it.
During his playing days, Australia and India enjoyed a fierce rivalry, making up two of cricket’s ‘Big Three’, with England the other. The two sides ended up going head to head in the 2003 ICC World Cup final, though the Aussies came out on top. According to Ponting, the IPL has only added to India’s success over the past decade.
“I really saw cricket in this country grow and become the powerhouse of cricket. The players who are representing India now or the IPL franchises are unbelievably talented players”, he said.
Indeed, while it is being gradually accepted by more and more people within the game, English cricket’s perspective of the tournament is still tainted by its effect on its own national side.
The County Championship has certainly fallen behind in terms of attracting top talent, chiefly because it cannot compete financially with more lucrative projects such as the IPL and Australia’s Big Bash.
The ECB was even more perturbed when Kevin Pietersen reportedly chose the IPL over playing for the Three Lions, but as it has become a more regular fixture in the calendar, it will have to be embraced. That is certainly the attitude that Ponting has taken.