The glitz, the glamour, the big names and the Bollywood style razzmatazz can only mean one thing. The Indian Premier League is back!
India’s revered sport is back in its most exciting form, T20. It seems to be the future of cricket, which is fast, furious and full of force.
For six seasons now the IPL has managed to attract the biggest cricketers for a one-month bonanza. Big name players such as Chris Gayle and Dale Steyn have lit up grounds around India as the franchises battle it out for T20 glory.
The money is lucrative; almost ridiculous. Behind all the glam the Indian board cleverly use the IPL to nurture young Indian talent onto the international stage.
With all the world’s cricketing boards having at least some representatives it begs the question why English talent has not yet been given the opportunity to gain experience on the relatively flat and slow Indian wickets - a place England have traditionally struggled on for many years.
The ECB, year-after-year, respond with the fact that they do not want to damage the English county game. The board claim that long evenings of Clydesdale Bank 40 and T20 cricket have led to a nurturing of home-grown talent such as Johnny Bairstow and Steven Finn.
The problem however, with English county cricket is that it doesn’t attract the big name players, simply because it cannot compete with the financial might of teams such as the Mumbai Indians who are backed by the telephone giant Reliance Industries.
Cricket has turned into a game of money and it seems the IPL is now the only real attractive league for big name players. With the players also comes the desire of many countries to send their best talent to shine with ball and bat and to play against the best in the world. They feel this will be the best way to aid their development on the international stage.
Surely the ECB must now push harder for IPL chiefs to try and re-negotiate the dates of the tournaments so they don’t clash with the domestic game. Counties must also not restrict their players who are tied down in long-term contracts.
Players like Eoin Morgan played in the IPL a few seasons ago and the results showed. Morgan was catapulted up the England rankings and became a key player in the one day and T20 teams.
Even players like Kevin Pietersen saw the benefits with the IPL giving him confidence in his T20 game. The IPL will just keep growing and the ECB would commit a huge error by not seizing the opportunity that this ever-growing franchise provides.
It must now allow young English talent to have an opportunity to participate in the IPL as well as be a part of the domestic league. This can only help the national team in the future and continue the development of the game as a whole.
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