IPL an incredible launching pad

2010-04-14 00:00

I’VE still not had the chance to watch a full game of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament, but catching up on the highlights has been interesting.

Watching the world’s best putting their stamp on the tournament and the younger players trying to make an impact and a name for themselves has provided some great entertainment.

Every young cricketer dreams of being showcased in the IPL. This year 22-year-old Indian batsman Rohit Sharma, playing for the Deccan Chargers, is one of the cricketers who has used this arena to display his considerable talent and his ability to bat under pressure.

In addition to providing players with the opportunity of making a name for themselves in front of a massive television audience, the IPL has the added attraction of getting the attention of the selectors back at home.

As much as the purists prefer to ignore the IPL, there is no doubt that national selectors are watching its players’ exploits with keen interest.

Australian 20/20 specialist David Warner has played alongside Virendah Sehwag for the Delhi Daredevils in this year’s IPL. Warner will be hoping that his solid performance has caught the attention of the Australian selectors.

He will also be hoping that they may be persuaded to consider him as more than simply a Twenty20 specialist. Warner’s team-mate Sehwag has shown that his powerful hitting is suited to all forms of cricket, including the Twenty20 format.

There are substantial amounts of money on offer to players in the IPL, but there is huge accompanying pressure, especially on youngsters, to justify their selection. Players starting their careers know only too well that this is a golden opportunity they shouldn’t squander, and that a few seasons in the IPL could set them up financially for life.

Rusty Theron is an example of a South African player whose life has changed considerably in a very short space of time. Theron, who performed consistently well for his Warriors franchise, was rewarded with an IPL contract and is now part of the South African squad — a dream start to any cricketer’s career.

It seems inconceivable that just a year ago the South African selectors were unable to find a place for Jacques Kallis, arguably the world’s best all-rounder, in their South African Twenty20 squad. Kallis’s standout performance in this year’s IPL for the Royal Challengers Bangalore has silenced many of his critics as well as those who believed his career was coming to an end.

There are incredibly lucrative opportunities available to cricketers nowadays. The Champions League in India is another avenue that provides domestic cricketers from all over the world with the opportunity to earn substantial pay cheques.

The IPL may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but even its critics have to admit that it is an incredible launching pad for young cricketers, and a healthy retirement package for cricketers coming to the end of their careers. It can be a life-changing experience — and, yes, I wish I were still playing!

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