IPL 2021: From Tendulkar to Doshi, age is just a number in the auctions

On Thursday, when yet another IPL auction begins in Chennai, players across age groups will go under the hammer.

Nayan Doshi is the oldest player to register for IPL 2021 auction.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Pravin Tambe made heads turn when he was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction in December 2019. At 48, Tambe was the oldest cricketer to be signed that season. Though he was later disqualified by the BCCI over the retirement policy, Tambe’s inclusion became the talking point of the auction.

On Thursday, when yet another IPL auction begins in Chennai, players across age groups will go under the hammer. While 16-year-old Afghan left-arm wrist spinner, Noor Ahmad, is the youngest player up for grabs, 42-year-old spinner Nayan Doshi is the oldest.

Then there is Arjun Tendulkar. Son of Indian cricket great, Sachin Tendulkar, the 21-year-old is a left-arm fast bowler, who recently made his debut for Mumbai in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and scalped a couple of wickets. At a base price of Rs 20 lakh, he is likely to attract attention.

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The game matters

The industry experts believe it is this variety of talent that makes the IPL unique. “Age is not an issue as far as the IPL is concerned. Yes, it was in the early years because you did witness a younger set of individuals being picked with gusto. Today, IPL is not about age but about talent which could be spotted to be effective in a format which is quick as a T20 is,” brand strategist Harish Bijoor, who has followed the IPL trends since its inception in 2008, said.

“I would not worry if there are players in a team, who are above 40 or if there are youngsters - say 17, 18. At the end of the day, it’s the game that matters and I feel we have a level playing field on age,” Bijoor added.

And perhaps that’s the reason, many cricketers above the age of 35 - including Harbhajan Singh, Shaun Marsh, Morne Morkel, Kedar Jadhav - are still in the fray.

Arjun Tendulkar, son of Indian cricket great, Sachin Tendulkar, is a left-arm fast bowler.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

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Comeback story

Similarly, at 42, Doshi still hopes to return to the IPL bandwagon. In 70 first-class and 74 List A appearances, he has taken 166 and 64 wickets respectively. Playing for Surrey, he became the world’s first cricketer to take 50 T20 wickets in just 29 fixtures.

Born in Nottingham, Doshi - son of former India spin ace Dilip Doshi - was a regular in English county cricket until 2014 and was previously a part of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. “I stopped playing due to some personal reasons and was out of the game. This year, I decided to start playing again. I spoke to my dad and he asked me if I was sure. So, he asked me to bowl for a few weeks and him being my harshest critic, he was very surprised to see me bowl. He said you look as fit as I have ever seen you,” Doshi told Sportstar.

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With a base price of Rs 20 lakh, Doshi has made it a point to train hard and has practised every day at his club in London. He even featured in the Middlesex County Cricket League last season, for his club Brondesbury and scalped 17 wickets. “I feel I can be a good asset to any team because of my experience in T20 cricket. Age is just a number and T20 cricket is not just for the young guys. You have to be fit and you need to be calm and need to know your game inside out during high-pressure situations,” Doshi said, hoping to find a team.

A flavour of Northeast

It’s a similar story for Khrievitso Kense. At 16 years and 348 days, he is the youngest Indian player in the auction. A spinner from Nagaland, Kense had an impressive run in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, picking seven wickets.

Son of a carpenter from the Sovima village near Dimapur, Kense is the fifth among seven siblings. A big fan of Shane Warne, he initially learned the game watching his idol on television.

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With a base price of Rs 20 lakh, a couple of franchises like Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals have shown interest in him by calling him to the trials. Initially an offie, Kense tried leg-spin as his fingers started paining and picked up a few things by watching Warne on television.

Over the years, the IPL has not only changed the face of Indian cricket but has also made it evident that it’s not the age, but the talent that matters.

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