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Uncertain future ahead for IPL imports

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http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/102318/uncertain-future-looms-ahead-for-the-foreign-players-in-the-indian-premier-league

 

After 60 breathless games of cricket, New Zealand's Kane Williamson and Australia's Andrew Tye ended the 2018 Indian Premier League as the top run scorer and top wicket taker respectively. Along with Rashid Khan's mesmeric leg spin, Jos Buttler's rolling barrage of half centuries, Shane Watson's heroics in the final and the dynamic cameo from Lungi Ngidi that helped carry the Chennai Super Kings to a third title, it would appear that the contributions of overseas players is as prevalent as ever.

 

 

However, a closer examination of the numbers reveals a growing middle class of young Indian players who have reduced opportunities for less established foreign imports. While the cream of international cricket is still welcomed at the biggest T20 league in the world, those on the fringes are now finding previously open doors slammed firmly shut.

 

 

According to Paddy Upton, the South African coach who has in the past held the reins at the Delhi Daredevils and the Rajasthan Royals, coaches and owners have changed their mindset when it comes to the recruitment of foreign stars.

 

 

"In the early days, you'd want to cover a lot of bases with your recruitment of overseas players," Upton says. "There is a general consensus now that Indian players are more comfortable in their own conditions which means coaches can be more pointed in the type of foreigner they're looking for."

 

 

Upton breaks this down in to three specific categories - big hitting top order batsmen, big hitting genuine all-rounders and express pace seamers who can crank it north of 140km/h. "Everything else," Upton explains, "can now be adequately done by a young and hungry Indian."

 

 

Between 2008 and 2012, foreign spinners such as Shane Warne, Johan Botha, Daniel Vettori and Muttiah Muralitharan regularly ran out for a variety of franchises. This year only the two young Afghan tweakers - Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan - made an impression on the competition as out and out spinners. The two other foreign spinners amongst the top 40 wicket takers were Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan and both contribute as much with the bat as they do with the ball.

 

 

"You have to be a real gun to be selected as a non-batting spinner in the IPL today," Upton says. "If you're not contributing runs you need to have real mystery, you need to have variety, you need to turn the ball and you need to take wickets. Even then, there might not be room for you because the young Indians are more than capable."

 

 

A case in point is South Africa's Imran Tahir. Once considered the best white ball spinner in the world, the enigmatic leggie was handed only 6 caps by the Super Kings and was edged out of the XI for the final by the 23 year old Karn Sharma.

 

 

As for wicket keeping, young locals such as Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan and Lokesh Rahul have followed the example set by MS Dhoni by combining explosive hitting with safe hands behind the stumps. Of the designated 'keepers for all 8 franchises, only three were foreign with Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen and Jos Buttler donning the gloves for their teams. Of those three, only Buttler produced with the bat. Where there was once Mark Boucher, Adam Gilchrist and Brendon McCullum, there is now a procession of capable Indian 'keepers.

Finally, the role of the foreign middle order batsman has changed. Amongst the top 50 run scorers, only Kane Williamson and AB de Villiers are overseas players who bat in the middle order and do not bowl.

 

 

It is telling that Faf du Plessis was converted in to an opener for the Super Kings. The message seems to be that unless a foreign batsman can turn his arm over or front up to the new ball then he'll be watching on from the side of the pitch.

 

 

"After 11 seasons of playing with and against the best players in the world, Indian players and coaches have found a formula that works and have identified which areas they can compete with the foreign stars," Upton says. "Players like the genuinely quick bowler and the big hitting all-rounder like the West Indians seem to regularly produce still seem beyond them."

 

 

Upton continues: "But as we've seen with the other types of players, India might soon produce some local guys who can fulfil those roles. They're constantly evolving their game and the rest of the world needs to catch up."

 

 

One way in which to do this is host a marquee T20 league of your own. Australia's Big Bash League provides players with another opportunity to sharpen their skills in highly pressurised environments in front of heaving crowds. Furthermore, IPL owners and coaches get their heads turned by prolific performances in the lead up to the auction.

 

 

Jofra Archer starred for the Hobart Hurricanes in the most recent BBL and naturally caught the attention of Manoj Badale and Lachlan Murdoch who forked out over $1 million for the young all-rounder. Indeed, after going unsold in 2012, South Africa's Richard Levi was shoehorned in to the Mumbai Indians squad in 2012 after registering the fastest T20I hundred at the time against New Zealand.

 

 

"If you can blitz it just before the auction, you are way more likely to land an IPL contract," Upton says. "Momentum is everything in this format and this only highlights the missed opportunities that the suspended T20 Global League represents."

 

 

The false start of South Africa's answer to a global T20 league has hindered the development of young players in the country. Without the opportunity to share net sessions, round table discussions and stressful match situations with seasoned pros, players outside of the upper echelon of South African cricket have been forced to watch on as their counterparts in India rapidly improve.

 

 

Tabraiz Shamsi has the potential to be a world class leg spinner. He possesses all the attributes that Upton outlined as being necessary to succeed in the IPL. In the 2017 T20 Challenge that acted as a poor surrogate for the T20 Global League, Shamsi picked up 16 wickets in 11 matches at an average of 15.3 with an economy rate of 7. However, given the low profile of the tournament and the lack of international flavour amongst the opposition, his exploits barely registered on IPL radars.

 

 

The lack of a globally recognised tournament has hurt South African players in way that has not been felt by the other three major exporters of IPL stars. Australia, the West Indies and New Zealand may have also be down on representatives across the franchises this year but the amount of games their players get (average games per player) has largely stayed the same. What the below tables suggest is that even elite Proteas are struggling to nail down a starting place with their IPL sides.

 

 

After 11 seasons, the IPL shows no signs of slowing down. With English cricketers taking to the tournament like never before and the introduction of a few exciting prospects from Afghanistan, the competition amongst overseas players will only get tougher. How these imports adapt their game to suit the specified needs of coaches and owners, while staving off the threat posed by local upstarts, will make for an intriguing subplot.

 

 

Australia

 

 

Year 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Players 20 14 23 28 24 28 23 16 23 19 12
Caps 142 106 160 222 177 222 175 138 153 168 111
Caps/player 7.1 7.5 6.9 7.9 7.3 7.9 7.6 8.6 6.6 8.8 9.2

 

 

Total Players: 64

 

 

Total Caps: 1 774

 

 

Caps per player: 27.7

 

 

Average Players Used per season: 20.9

 

 

Average Caps per season: 161.27

 

 

New Zealand

 

 

Year 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Players 7 7 4 9 6 2 5 6 6 11 8
Caps 36 50 23 70 57 2 37 42 49 81 73
Caps/player 5.1 7.1 5.7 7.7 9.5 1 7.4 7 8.1 7.3 9.1

 

 

Total Players: 23

 

 

Total Caps: 520

 

 

Caps per player: 22.6

 

 

Average Players used per season: 6.45

 

 

Average Caps per season: 47.27

 

 

West Indies

 

 

Year 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Players 3 4 5 4 7 10 13 7 9 8 9
Caps 16 32 38 39 73 116 91 91 86 69 89
Caps/player 5.3 8 7.6 9.7 10.4 11.6 7.1 13 9.5 8.6 9.8

 

 

Total Players: 23

 

 

Total Caps: 649

 

 

Caps per players: 28.21

 

 

Average Players per season: 7.18

 

 

Average Caps per season: 59

 

 

South Africa

 

 

Year 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Players 10 18 16 16 18 12 14 16 15 8 10
Caps 93 130 106 141 149 111 128 127 107 53 57
Caps/player 9.3 7.2 6.6 8.8 8.2 9.2 9.1 7.9 7.1 6.5 5.7

 

 

Total Players: 46

 

 

Total Caps: 1 202

 

 

Caps per player: 26.13

 

 

Average Players per season: 12.45

 

 

Average Caps per season: 109.27

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