The mini auction of players for IPL 2020 once again showed the franchises’ love for the Australian cricketers. This is not something new, for over the decades the Indian fan has loved the Australian cricketer far more than a player from any other country.
The Indian fans will have great admiration for the West Indian cricketer for his natural flair, different style, the power of his batting and bowling and joie de vivre, they will grudgingly admire the tenacity and professionalism of the English cricketer, but will seldom warm up to him, they will enjoy watching the New Zealand players, but because India doesn’t play them often, the Kiwi cricketer will not always be in a fan’s thoughts. The Pakistani cricketers, especially the fast bowlers, will be admired with the question why India can’t produce quickies like them, but the all time favourite will invariably be an Australian.
The love affair started with Sir Don Bradman and even though he never came to India he was revered like no Indian cricketer ever was. The Australian cricketer looked different with his attitude and approach to the game and unlike some top English players of the 1950s, who turned up their noses and refused to tour India, there was never a top Aussie cricketer who said ‘no’ to travelling to India.
The Australian cricketer seemed to embrace India a lot more than players from other countries and hardly, if ever, bad-mouthed the country. One of the rare occasions when it happened was a couple of years back after the Australian team tour when a mental case called India the rudest country in the world, yet came back a few months later to play the IPL.
So it’s hardly a surprise that the franchises go for Australian talent far more than from other countries. The fact that Australia is yet to win the ICC T20 World Cup never enters the minds of those making the decisions. It’s also conveniently forgotten that the West Indies has won it twice!
There is a misconception that because a Windies cricketer seems laid-back he doesn’t think too much about the game and lets natural talent take over. Nothing can be further from the truth as can be discovered if one spends time with West Indian legends and see how much technical and tactical knowledge they have.
There are several examples of their fast bowlers who have out-thought the opposition batsmen and set them up nicely. Look at the difference Kieron Pollard has made with his thoughtful captaincy. The West Indies team that toured India recently looked far more competitive under him than in recent times when things drifted away within overs of the game having begun.
The timings of the T20 leagues in West Indies and Australia also seem to influence the decision-makers in India. The Australian Big Bash can be seen at a comfortable time in India, while the Caribbean Premier League finishes late in the night. So, the performers in the West Indies don’t get the exposure that the ones in Australia do.
Not only do West Indian players seldom get picked for big dollars, even West Indian coaches never get opportunities though, as already mentioned, the West Indies has won the ICC T20 World Cup twice.
Over the years the IPL has shown that bowlers have not been game changers as much as batsmen have been. Yes the Bumrahs, the Narines , the Malingas and the Tahirs, to name a select few, have had their matches, but in the main it has been the big-hitting batsman who has taken the game away from the opposition.
So it’s a bit baffling as to why a bowler, who is going to be in the game basically for the four overs he is allowed to bowl, gets crores from the franchises. It’s nothing but wasted money, but year after year franchises keep spending humongous amounts on bowlers without getting even a fraction of the value for the money spent. Indeed, by the time the IPL has reached the halfway stage, there are articles in the media as to how much value every wicket or run from the big buy player is.
Last year’s big pick was an uncapped player for over 8 crores. He ended up being selected for just one game, where he did not even bowl his full quota of overs. So, he got paid over 8 crores to play just one game and take one wicket without completing his full quota of overs!
One would expect after such a bungle that the scouts or those taking that decision would be questioned, but it hardly happens. For, as has been seen in the IPL, if one has good PR and can talk the modern management language then one can keep on getting the big bucks even after taking wrong decisions.
Be that as it may, the IPL will continue to be the most exciting and glamorous T20 league in the world and even those who think India is the rudest country in the world will come back. After all, what is a bit of ‘rudeness’ when the millions flow into the bank account!