This year’s IPL has been truly memorable. There have been scorching centuries, game-turning five-wicket hauls and catches that have left all those watching gobsmacked
GT skipper Hardik Pandya and CSK captain MS Dhoni pose with the IPL trophy at Chennai recently. Pic/BCCI; IPL
So the teams that finished No. 1 and No. 2 will be vying to get their hands on the coveted IPL trophy. Both have entered the final with impressive wins in the Playoffs. Chennai, of course, had beaten Gujarat in the first qualifier and gone straight to the final. However, the system of rewarding teams that finished in the top two with the chance to still qualify for the final by playing the winner of the match between teams three and four meant that Gujarat got the chance to still make the final. How well they grabbed it will now be part of the folklore of the Incredible Premier League.
By the way, the suggestion to reward the teams that were No. 1 and 2 by having the Qualifiers, Eliminators came from Adam Gilchrist. I was in the Governing Council (GC) then and had written to all eight captains, asking their suggestions on how to make the competition even more exciting. Five out of the then eight captains replied with their take and Gilchrist’s proposal was accepted from the 2011 season. Before that, there used to be two semi-finals and a final. With Gilchrist’s suggestion, the host broadcaster also got an extra match. At the GC meeting then I was asked who gave me the authority to write to the captains. I replied that I had written in my personal capacity as a former player and only with the intention of getting feedback from those who make the event exciting and who matter the most, the players. We are now seeing the benefits of the system as a top team that has been clearly the best as Gujarat have been this season for another chance after having a bad day and lose and which may not be a true reflection of how they have played throughout the season.
There will be some who will suggest a best-of-three finals too, but with the tournament being played over two months to stretch it by almost another week may not be preferred by the players themselves.
This year’s IPL has been truly memorable and has seen some spectacular displays with both bat and ball and while fielding too. There have been scorching centuries hit and game-turning five-wicket hauls captured and catches taken that have left all those watching gobsmacked.
This tournament has more than ever shown that often it’s the unheralded Indian talent that has made the difference while most of the expensive players have seldom if ever, earned their high wages throughout the history of the tournament. These players perform sporadically, but only a few perform when their team actually need them to do so. Maybe, it’s the pressure of expectations after the big price tag that hampers their natural game.
When the next auction comes along, the salary cap for the franchises will increase and we could see some crazy buys mostly advised by the computer guys and not the cricket guys.
Teams would do well to look at fresh talent whether it’s the coaching staff or players, even as some experienced hands are retained to guide the youngsters. Many players get retained on the basis of one performance out of a dozen or so matches and that has to be looked at too.
There must be an openness to look at the performers in the Ranji Trophy too and not just the Syed Mushtaq Ali and Vijay Hazare tournaments. The Ranji batters are better equipped than the sloggers in the domestic white-ball tournaments. The sloggers are usually playing second rate bowlers on small grounds. When it comes to the IPL where the bowling and fielding is of a better quality and standard, they are quickly found out as also the bowlers who take wickets on sub-standard pitches. This is where having an Indian who has watched domestic cricket as assistant coach will pay dividends. He will be in a better position to guide an overseas coach who has not seen the domestic player and who will struggle to remember their names for at least the first week to 10 days of the tournament.
The four Playoffs teams had Indian captains who were strong in their self-confidence and so took most, if not all the calls as far as team selection and strategy was concerned even though they may have had an overseas coach. That Gujarat Titans have Ashish Nehra and Hardik Pandya as the decision-makers is the reason somebody like a Mohit Sharma can still make a telling contribution where at other franchises he would not even have been considered and thought of as a spent force.
Whatever. It truly has been an Incredible Premier League.
Professional Management Group