IPL: A new name on the trophy!

The National Cricket Academy produces several physios, fitness trainers and statisticians and most of them can be used by the IPL franchises at a fraction of the cost that similar overseas staff will charge. Most importantly, it will give these Indian staff valuable experience that will come in handy for Indian cricket.

Sunil Gavaskar during the match between the Gujarat Lions and the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground in Delhi.   -  SPORTZPICS

The Indian Premier League 9 is over and Sunrisers Hyderabad has emerged a deserving winner. It is its maiden title and congratulations are in order. After a slow start it’s been a terrific tournament, cricket and entertainment-wise.

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There have been some terrific performances with the bat with Virat Kohli simply outstanding. The RCB skipper batted in his customary number three position in only one match. Otherwise, he moved up a rung to open with AB de Villiers following him at number three or four. In top form, these two batsmen provided some of the most stunning performances one can hope to see and literally drove the crowds wild with the range of their strokeplay and their ability to hit the ball wherever and whenever they wanted to. It’s a pity that they couldn’t click together in the final.

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There have been others too, especially the victorious Hyderabad skipper David Warner, who held his team’s batting together with a series of innings that were a blend of the orthodox and unorthodox and sheer power shots. Fittingly, he finished second behind Kohli in aggregate and strike rate.

The left-handed Mustafizur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers with his ability to bowl the yorker and the slower deliveries with no apparent change in the grip, run-up and action. He left the best of batsmen floundering with change of pace and was thus able to keep a lid on the opposition’s scoring in the slog overs.

His comrade in arms was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who showed that he was a quick learner after the mauling he got from young Sarfaraz Khan and came back as a bowler equally capable of bowling the yorker like Mustafizur. He also hit when required with the bat and so clearly was the Hyderabad team’s most valuable player this season. No wonder he got the Purple Cap for taking the most number of wickets.

The IPL has unearthed plenty of talent for national teams of other countries. Many a player who was not very well known even in his country has become a prominent name and found himself in the national team soon after. Plenty of young Indian players also have the IPL to thank for getting them the national cap. But most of them have fallen by the wayside since there is a whole lot of difference in playing for a franchise and for the country.

What the IPL has also done is to give openings to overseas players who have retired to jump into coaching straightaway. Most times it is because the player still has a year or two of his contract to run and so the franchise takes the easy way out by appointing him as coach and thus saves the additional money they would have to shell out for a coach.

Stephen Fleming was the first one, as the Chennai team instead of going for a new coach after Kepler Wessels thought it fit to use the Kiwi skipper as their coach. It worked wonderfully with the Chennai team being among the best in the IPL till they were suspended for two years. That magic has not quite worked out with Pune as the team finished second last despite the Dhoni-Fleming combination functioning there.

We now have Daniel Vettori and Brad Hodge who are coaching teams. Hodge, in fact, had offered himself as a player, but realised that taking up the coach’s job would help his profile a lot more since he is retired from all other formats of the game and does not have much time left as an active player. The team he coached, Gujarat Lions, finished on top after the league phase.

Of course, because of our foreign complex, such opportunities will not come easily to a just retired Indian player. It would be wonderful for the franchises to realise that they can help Indian cricket as well as reduce their costs by having Indians in the support staff. By all means have a foreign coach if you think it’s going to help in winning the trophy since that is the aim of participation in the event anyway. Having an Indian as an assistant coach will enable the foreign coach to have a better idea of the Indian players in the franchise since he does not follow Indian domestic cricket as the Indian assistant coach does.

Also, as has been seen in this year’s IPL, a foreign physio is most likely to give an overseas player the required certificate in case he wants to leave early to be fresh for his country’s international commitment which may be immediately after the IPL concludes.

The National Cricket Academy produces several physios, fitness trainers and statisticians and most of them can be used by the franchises at a fraction of the cost that similar overseas staff will charge. Most importantly, it will give these Indian staff valuable experience that will come in handy for Indian cricket.

Let us not forget it is the INDIAN Premier League and not a foreign league.