Daily Archives: 20 April 2009

Has the IPL helped nurture local talent?

At a lunch that I went to Sunday afternoon, I was hauled up by a frequent visitor to i3j3Cricket and was asked to comment on why the IPL could not be thrown wide open to have teams full of international players (if need be)!

To have a lower bound on the number of local players in each squad (or an upper bound on the number of international players in each team) was seen by this gentleman as either a “needless constriction” or “protectionism” or yet another example of India wanting to have it both ways — ‘while India is happy to be the “Back Office to the World” she can’t yet throw her doors wide open to and embrace capitalism’ was the theory that was expounded.

Or at least, that was how I understood the theory that was being postulated.

Each squad in the IPL has to have at least four under-19 players and a (playing) team can’t have more than 4 international players.

I pointed out to the gentleman that this IPL rule was recently lauded by Lawrence Booth in an article in CricInfo.

There is nothing inherently wrong with letting market forces completely dictate the composition of a squad or indeed, a team that takes the park. If that indeed does happen, it would be a first in the world, leave alone India! And maybe that experiment is not too far off.

After all, to the credit of the IPL, the IPL has almost seen more experiments trialled out in the last two years than cricket has seen in the last few decades! Some of these — like (a) the establishment of a transfer market, (b) auctioning of players, (c) establishment of franchises, (d) having a salary cap, etc — have, in my view, been good, while some — like the mid-innings “strategy break” — have been poorly thought through.

However, I must say that I am not a fan of the ‘throw the doors wide open and let market forces dictate squad/team composition’ strategy, even if there is a ‘salary cap’.

Firstly, ‘protectionism’ and ‘capitalism’ have conveniently co-existed even in America, a land that has embraced ‘capitalism’ more willingly than any other. When there are compelling reasons for these two ways of life to co-exist, they do! So, there is no reason for a call for an “either have it all-black or all-white policy or it is a nonsense” judgement when it comes the the IPL. Not everything in life needs to be distinctly and strictly binary for it to be granted legitimacy! Shades of grey have always existed.

Second, I said to this gentleman that, with a strong focus on identifying, nurturing and grooming local talent, the IPL has actually managed to unearth and identify (in some cases) and nurture or resurrect (in others) local talent.

I was challenged to name names of talent that IPL-1 had unearthed. I could cite the names of Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh, but then they wouldn’t be ‘local’.

So here are some names of players whose careers, in my view, IPL-1 assisted through the local-talent-lower-bound principle:

Amit Mishra: His was a career that was going no where. He was always a good bowler. But he had been shunned even by Delhi, his local team. He continued playing in the Ranji Trophy. But his real big break came through IPL-1. The moment he took a hat-trick in IPL-1 was when the selectors sat up and took notice. He was immediately drafted into the India-A side to play Australia. He performed well and was immediately picked for India. He may have made it to the India team. But I have no doubt that IPL-1 and its focus on having local talent helped his career immensely.

Yusuf Pathan: He was always seen as a player who had heaps of talent. Indeed, he played in the T20 World Championship finals too. If I remember right that was the only game he played in the T20 World Championship. However, it was in IPL-1 that he really shone bright. He played many a breathtaking innings for Rajasthan Royals in IPL-1 and this catapulted him into national team selection. Again, I have no doubt that the opportunity he got to rub shoulders with players in the big league was what prompted his growth as a player.

Ravindra Jadeja: Shane Warne called him the “Rock Star” in IPL-1. He may have been a little-known and perhaps even ‘forgotten’ player in the domestic circuit. After all, there are many players like him in the past that died slow and painful deaths in the local circuit. Noel David and Vihay Bharadwaj are two names that spring to mind immediately! They are Ravindra-Jadeja-type players who toiled in the domestic circuit without getting enough opportunities to either promote their talent or shine or polish their talent on a big stage. Although I agree that Jadeja was starting off a much better base, he was helped by the IPL-1 opportunities he had and as an under-19 player, he just had to be included. No doubt he was helped by the huge raps he received from Shane Warne. He displayed his wares and got into the India team.

L. Balaji: I think that the local-inclusion-lower-bound rule definitely helped L. Balaji’s career. To his credit, he used his inclusion in the Chennai team to show that he still had it in him, despite the fact that his pace had slowed down several notches post his injury-scares. He put in a good showing in the IPL and that contributed to his resurrection to the India Test side. He is also in the list of probables for the India T20 team.

Dhawal Kulkarni: He was another bowler that benefited immensely from the local-talent rule. He played many a game for Mumbai in IPL-1 and impressed one and all with his pace and abilities. Soon thereafter, he was selected to tour NZ with Team India. He did not get a game in NZ, but one has to assume that the tour helped him hone his skills.

Manpreet Gony: Another Chennai player who was catapulted to national reckoning was Manpreet Gony. If I am not mistaken, he was even discarded by his local state, but Chennai picked him up and gave him opportunities to shine. He did and, as a result, was thrown into national reckoning. He was in several ODI teams subsequent to IPL-1.

Other players that benefited from the local-player-lower-bound rule in IPL-1 are possibly Siddharth Trivedi, Ashok Dinda, Karan Goel, Venugopal Rao, Yo Mahesh, Pradeep Sangwan, Yogesh Takawale, Pinal Shah and Naman Ojha.

Please feel free to add to this list of players whose careers the IPL-1 had assisted/helped/accelerated.

Several of the above players are good and it is possible that several of them would have made it off their own bat over time. It is also possible that the local-talent-lower-bound would not have been necessary for several of these players to gain recognition and eventual selection in the India team.

They could have made it after ‘slogging it out on the domestic circuit’ and had time taken her natural course. However, I have little doubt that IPL-1 catapulted them into national reckoning and national consciousness faster and in a much more compelling manner.

I am, therefore, an unabashed fan of the local-talent-lower-bound principle.

Sometimes it is not totally wrong to mix a doze of ‘protectionism’ with brazen ‘capitalism’. Morever, in my view, having a few protectionist measures in the IPL is not totally at odds with India’s aspirations and desires.

Finally, what was the first thing that the major pillars of capitalism did when the current global financial crisis hit? They put their bowls out for a protectionist hand out! But that’s another essay for another day!

— Mohan