How the IPL has helped England Cricket
When the Indian Premier League burst onto the scene in 2008, many traditionalists believed it would ruin the game. They also thought it would be the beginning of the end for spin bowlers in white-ball cricket. How wrong could they be?
It seems a world away when Kevin Pietersen was willing to risk his England career to play franchise cricket. Yes, his bank balance was obviously a factor, but he also knew how important it was for England cricketers to play with and against the best players, and get coached by the best coaches in the world. He faced a heap of criticism for this stance.
Roll on 12 years and England have 10 players in the 2020 IPL. In a BBC “Doosra” podcast broadcast in May 2020, wicket keeper Jos Buttler, who plays for the Rajasthan Royals, thanked Pietersen for paving the way for players to take part.
“He really paved the way for a lot of us to go and now play in the IPL with more blessing from English cricket. He is a pioneer in building the steps in place to realize just how important the IPL is for developing cricketers”
Apart from a few international matches, there is bigger stage than the IPL and the Big Bash in Australia. Stadiums packed full with 50,000 supporters (when they’re allowed) and being watched around the world on TV, it’s something that our own T20 Blast just doesn’t offer.
In the same podcast, Buttler went on to say ““Some of the matchups you get to see in the IPL are great. (Royal Challengers) Bangalore has been amongst the top three teams with (Virat)) Kohli, AB (de Villiers), and (Chris) Gayle coming up and then to see them up against a (Jasprit) Bumrah or a Dale Steyn or (Lasith) Malinga. As a kid growing up that is what you want to play — fantasy cricket. Mix all the teams together what it will be like if Kohli and de Villiers play together.”
As we write this, Buttler has just played for the Royals against Dehli Capitals. He was facing (and ramping) South Africa’s Anrich Nortje who was bowling at 97mph. The day before, Jonny Bairstow was opening the batting with Australia’s David Warner, facing Sam Curran who himself is playing alongside the likes of the great MS Dhoni. Where else could they do this?
The ECB should be actively promoting the bigger franchise leagues, their players are improving for free. There can be no denying that under pressure in the World Cup Final, Jofra Archer’s IPL and Big Bash experience didn’t help him, before the 2019 Word Cup, the biggest games he had played were in India and Australia.
The 10 English players at the IPL this year are Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Baistow, Jofra Archer, Sam and Tom Curran, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan and Tom Banton. Add a Chris Woakes, Jason Roy or Adil Rashid and you have a very good XI.
The future looks very bright for the England white-ball game, we just need our players to be playing with and against the world’s best and that is what the IPL offers.