Discussing the richest cricket boards is common in the world of cricket today.
Dwaine Pretorius becomes the latest to retire from internationals to focus on T20 leagues. He follows Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, and several others in becoming free agents. The SA 20 league, aka IPL in South Africa, has gained a lot of attention in being the ‘final hope’ for South African cricket. But why is that South African, New Zealand, and West Indies cricketers in particular are leaving international cricket?
It all boils down to the money. Today, we discuss the richest cricket boards in Part 4 of our series, Cricket & Finances. Here is quick overview:
The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) is the richest cricket league in the world with an estimated $2 billion annual revenue. The BCCI is followed by the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) at $368 Million, and CA (Cricket Australia) at $270 Million in annual revenue. The CSA (Cricket South Africa) has revenues of $46 million, NZC (New Zealand Cricket) is at $42 million, and CWI (Cricket West Indies) is at $28 million. Those are not bad numbers, but exploring a bit in-depth, we see that CSA had a total comprehensive loss of $11.6 million, NZC suffered a loss of $4.6 million, and CWI incurred a loss of $10 million.
World’s Richest Cricket Boards (Lowest to Highest)
We looked at the financial statements and Annual Reports of each of these respective boards to come up with the revenue, expenditure, and total surplus/loss.The ranking of the national cricket board is displayed with the (annual revenue) and partners/sponsors.
*all figures are in $US dollars.
12. Zimbabwe Cricket – ZC ($5.5 Million)
Total Operating Costs:$6,953,991
Total Deficit:–$1,239,606 (LOSS)
Total Comprehensive Income (after surplus on lands and buildings): – $1,192,166
Is Zimbabwe Cricket profitable?No, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) is not profitable with a deficit of $1.1 million in 2020.
Based on Annual Reports & financial statements ending on 31 December 2020.
Banaqua, Swift, Zimpharm, Dandemutande, A May, Ihsan, Swift, Windmill Pvt Ltd
Retained earnings at the end of the financial year:310,166 ($333,000)
Based on Annual Reports & financial statements ending on 31 December 2021.
Is Cricket Ireland profitable?No, Cricket Ireland is not profitable with a deficit of 1,230,869 Euros ($1.3 Million). On the other hand, in 2020, the Cricket Ireland was profitable with a surplus of 1,537,632 Euros ($1.65 Million).
Main Sponsors & Men’s Shirts Rights Holder:ITWConsulting
Official Ireland Women’s Team Partner & Official Technology Partner:Hanley Energy
Official Airline Partner:Turkish Airlines
Official sponsor of Inter-Provincial Series:Test Triangle
Official IT Services Partner:Techfynder
Official Currency Exchange Partner:ClearCurrency
Official Partners:Amul, O’Neills, Ulster University, Tildenet, Club Travel, La Manga Club, ICC, Sport Ireland, Sport Northern Ireland, The Hope Foundation, Federation of Irish Sport, Arachas Insurance, Mansfield Sports Group
Is the Bangladesh Cricket Board profitable? Yes, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) was profitable in 2020 with a surplus of BDT 832,68,87,010 ($79.2 Million)
Based on AnnualGeneral Meeting 2021, which summarized CWI’s financial statements from 2020.
*BDT – Bangladesh Taka
Highlight from the 2017-2020 BCB Activity Report
“In the six years between 2011 and 2016 the Board had earned US $33.32 million in media, team sponsor, and other rights while in just three years from 2017 to 2020, the BCB’s earnings stood at approximately US $29 million from the same sources.”
Total Revenue:778, 353,000 Rands ($45,767,156 USD)
Total Expenses:995,624,000 Rands ($58,492,910 USD)
Total Comprehensive Loss: -197,874,000 Rands ($-11,625,097 USD) (LOSS)
End of Year Balance (After adding up previous years’ savings):272 Million Rands ($16 Million)
Is Cricket South Africa profitable? No, Cricket South Africa was not profitable in 2021-22 with a net deficit of -197 Million South African Rands (loss of $11.625 Million US dollars).
Based on the 2021-22 Integrated Report and corresponding financial statements for fiscal year ending on 30 April 2022.
Highlights from the Integrated Report 2021-22
“The curtailment of the planned four T20 matches against India due to Covid-19 pandemic severely impacted CSA’s results, with a -R 250 Million (- $14.7 Million USD). This revenue loss was mitigated to a certain extent by committed cost reductions through all business areas, resulted in a reported loss of R198 Million ($11.6 Million USD).”
“CSA does not own cricket stadiums, so proceeds generated by these venues are shared, with CSA receiving 20% and stadium operators (CSA members) receiving 80%.”
53% Broadcast Rights: 413 Million SA Rands ($24 Million)
33% ICC distribution: 256 Million SA Rands ($15 Million USD)
4% Sponsorships (Professional), 2% Sponsorships (Amateur): 52 Million SA Rands ($3 Million USD)
Is Cricket Australia profitable? Yes, Cricket Australia (CA) is profitable with a net surplus of $ 10.7 million AUD ($7.4 million USD) in 2021. Hence, Cricket Australia is on #3 in the richest cricket boards in the world.
Based on the 2021-22 Annual Report and Statement of Comprehensive Income for fiscal year ending on 30 June 2022.
Broadcast Partners:Fox Sports, Seven West Media, ABC Radio, Macquarie Radio Network, Sports Entertainment Network
International Broadcast Partners:Sony, Fox Sports Asia, beIN, BT Sport, Supersport, Kwese Sports, Sports Max, Flow Sports, Willow, ATN, SKY Network Television, National Broadcasting Corporation of Papua New Guinea
Total Comprehensive Income:$20,751,000 Pounds ($25,229,066 USD)
Is the England & Wales Cricket Board profitable? Yes, England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is profitable. According to the 2021-22 Financial Statements, the ECB had a net surplus of $20.7 million pounds ($25.2 million US dollars). Hence, the ECB is the 2nd among the richest cricket boards on the planet.
Based on the 2021-22 Financial Statements for fiscal year ending on 31 January 2022.
Is the Board of Control for Cricket in India profitable? Yes, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is profitable with a net surplus of INR 529 Crore ($64.8 million US dollars). Furthermore, the profit has grown to an estimated $2 billion as of 2022.
Based on the 2016-17 Financial Statements for fiscal year ending on 31 March 2017.
Although official documents were limited to 2017, we investigated further based on Twitter data and media reports from reputable sources. For example, the infographic by Forbes India shows the mammoth growth in BCCI’s net worth between 2014 & 2018. BCCI’s net worth is shown to be INR 11,916.8 crore ($1.224 billion US dollars).
Since then, BCCI’s rise has been exponential. Here are some of the highlights of major rights and sponsorships, including the mammoth $6.2 billion IPL media rights between 2023-2027.
In conclusion, about $1.24 billion revenue will be achieved annually by the IPL media right alone. The ICC revenue and all of the other sponsorships will make up another billion (and will change everywhere as the negotiations with each sponsor changes). The BCCI is easily #1 on the list of the world’s richest cricket boards.
*Note: The estimated Revenue for ICC’s broadcasting income from the 2023 ODI World Cup is about $533.29 Million, from which $58.23-116.47 million is expected to be taxed by the Indian government.
India’s sponsors and partners are as follows:
Team Sponsor:BYJU’S: The Learning App
Official Broadcaster:Star Sports ($944 Million)
Official Partners:Dream11, Hyundai, Ambuja Cement, Killer Jeans(Kewal Kiran Clothing)
The only profitable cricket boards are the BCCI, ECB, CA, Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), and Sri Lankan Cricket Board (SLCB).
This is the concerning aspect. If the national body is not profitable, they have to cut back on salaries, systems, and leagues. This is exactly why South Africa are hoping that the SA20 league generates so much revenue that the surplus can raise players’ salaries and keep them in the domestic circuit.
How Do Cricket Boards Earn Money?
Cricket boards earn money in a variety of ways—ICC revenue, media rights, sponsorships, ticket sales, etc. Here is a visual from ESPNCricinfo illustrating the2016-2023 revenue distribution from the ICC to the top cricketing nations.
By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 04/01/2022
Actor Shreyas Talpade, from Iqbal fame, is back to portray this inspirational story of a man who realized his dream of playing cricket on the national stage at the age of 41.
Can Pravin Tambe’s unlikely journey capture the imagination of the public like other sports movies? Today we review this latest cricket movie released on Disney+Hotstar—Details, Summary, Verdict, and most importantly, Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe. There is also a section of most popular Pravin Tambe videos, his playing career, and stats at the very end.
Kolkata Knight Riders just posted an emotional video on social media regarding a special screening of Kaun Pravin Tambe?, celebrating Pravin Tambe who is on KKR’s support staff in IPL 2022 (video of KKR’s special screening linked below).
Kaun Pravin Tambe Detail & Information
Title Name: Kaun Pravin Tambe? (Who is Pravin Tambe?)
Hotstar Summary:Relentless effort can make an underdog rise to the top, and cricketer Pravin Tambe’s extraordinary journey proves why age is just a number.
Language: Hindi (English subtitles available, also dubbed versions available in Telegu & Tamil)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
Kaun Pravin Tambe Summary and Review
Kaun Pravin Tambe? begins with a clip of a Rahul Dravid, who is portraying Pravin Tambe as the embodiment of passion (full speech below). The movie then tries to answer the question for the audience, who is this Pravin Tambe that Dravid is talking about? Cricket fans have heard about with his exploits with the Rajasthan Royals between 2013 and 2015, but how did he start his career? Why did he have to wait for 20 years?
The film begins in the early 2010s, when Tambe is juggling his life as a construction supervisor, father, husband, and cricketer. After brief introduction of the Shreyas Talpade, the movie rewinds to Tambe’s childhood and develops chronologically. We see that at the age of 12, Tambe finds his life purpose—to play Ranji cricket for Mumbai. The essence of the plot is to fill the gap between ages 12 to 41.
There are several mini-stories within the larger movie. Tambe begins his career as an all-rounder and specifically, a medium-pace allrounder. How does he then turn into this leg-spinner? (Don’t worry, will not spoil that for you here). Another plotline is the various jobs Tambe takes upon for the sake of financial stability, while still trying to give time to cricket. This is my favorite part of the movie.
Finally, the portrayal of the Mumbai grassroots cricket, Shivaji Park maidaans, and gully cricket is cherry on top of the cake. The actual cricket has the perfect screen time—not too much (like 83’s highlights reels), not too little, just right.
What makes this a neat watch is Shreyas Talpade’s bowling action. I loved his bowling action in Iqbal and since Tambe started as a medium pacer, Talpade was a perfect fit. His acting is brilliant as usual, but the minor characters (older brother, childhood friend, wife Vaishali, Abey Kuruvilla, and Arif Zakaria as Jamil) are the heart of the film. Special mention to Ashish Vidyarthi, who does an excellent job portraying Vidyadhar Paradkar sir (influential coach for Zaheer Khan and other great Indian cricketers).
Finally, a note on Parambrata Chatterjee, who is a wonderful actor (you might know him as the police officer in Kahaani & Aranyak). However, his minor negative character as a journalist did not suit him or the script well.
Verdict: To Watch or Not to Watch?
At this moment, there is loads of cricket going on—2022 Women’s World Cup, IPL 2022, Australia Vs Pakistan ODIs, Bangladesh Vs South Africa Tests, Netherlands Vs New Zealand limited overs series, and the 2022 County Championship will begin in a week as well.
On top of this, I am sure you are busy with work, family, or school.
But if you can make time for two hours in this busy world, I hope you can set everything aside and give Kaun Pravin Tambe? a sincere watch. Good, light-hearted movie that will rejuvenate your belief in cricket, specifically grassroot & gully cricket.
My review for Kaun Pravin Tambe? is 4.5/5. Great watch. The only thing that took away from the film for me was the minor conflict with the journalist, which seemed a bit forced.
Before we move on to “Life Lessons we can learn from Pravin Tambe”, check out BCD’s social media pages and consider subscribing to our newsletter. It would really help support this website.
5 Life Lessons We All Can Learn from Pravin Tambe
Pravin Tambe symbolizes Broken Cricket Dreams. His journey has broken dreams, but his story is also full of inspiration, passion, hard work, modesty, and determination.
Tambe is one of the great stories of the IPL. Got his big break before playing a Ranji Trophy match. And guess what? After all his toil, results were evident – hat-trick vs KKR, highest wicket taker for Rajasthan Royals in 2014, and the Golden Wicket taker for RR in 2012 Champions League.
And he played till he was 49 across IPL, CPL, Abu Dhabi T10 leagues. I am sure he still plays a few gully cricket games here and there. Dedication to the max. Here are some of the other life lessons from Pravin Tambe we can apply to our lives.
1. Age Is Just a Number
After almost 30 years of toil, Tambe finally got selected for the Rajasthan Royals in 2013. A few months later, he would get his beloved Ranji Trophy cap.
In this day and age of the internet and focus on fitness, anything is possible. Tom Brady, Pravin Tambe, Brad Hogg, and Chris Gayle can still play professional sports at 42. With resources online, you can obtain a new skill, learn new things, change careers, or start a business. At any point in your life, age is no barrier.
2. Balancing Dreams with Practicality of Life
As Tambe entered his twenties, he assumed more responsibilities. He got married, had two kids, and had to pay bills. Usually, people give up dreams during this time for financial security.
Pravin Tambe did not. He worked multiple jobs instead.
Life is all about moderation and balance. And to survive, money is needed. If you can develop multiple streams of income, while still being within reach of your dream goal, that is the ideal zone.
3. Be Open-Minded
Pravin Tambe reluctantly switched from medium pace bowling to leg spin. And boy, did it pay dividends.
There is a fine line between persistence and inflexibility. Quitting should always be your last option, but if things are not working in your favor, be open to change. Being open minded in the micro can have large positive effects on the macro.
4. Passion Makes Perfect
Dravid’s speech illuminates on Pravin Tambe’s work ethic. Although he did not play much the first year, he attended every optional practice session, every gym session, and was always discussing how to improve his game with other players in the squad.
After his first man of the match award in the IPL, “he was weeping.” He cherished every moment of this journey. Although he has now assumed coaching roles, he still plays for his company (Kanga League, Time Shield) and still bowls 15-20 overs a day in three-day-games.
We usually say ‘Practice Makes Perfect.’ That is true, but what is more is that ‘Passion Makes Perfect.’ If you combine your love or passion for a certain activity and put in the practice and the hard yards, then you will be happy with all your effortsand gradually get closer to your dream.
5. All You Need Is One Good Over. Never Give Up. Dreams Really Do Come True
Themain theme of Kaun Pravin Tambe can be summed up by one quote in the movie.
Pravin Tambe was in the 40 Probable’s List for a number of seasons, even as early as 2000.
But he had to wait. And Wait. Almost gave up. And had doubts cast upon from friends and society, but he kept on working relentlessly and kept on dreaming a dream till he got his big break that changed his life.
In Tambe’s own words, “Just never give up on your dreams. Really dreams do come true.”
Try, Try, and Try Again Until You Succeed.You may take rest but never quit. The light at the end of the tunnel may be bleak, but there is light, nevertheless.
Pravin Tambe Videos and Interviews
Here are some of my favorite Pravin Tambe videos. In his interview with Aakash Chopra, Tambe reveals that his IPL cap was not his biggest moment. Getting the Ranji cap for Mumbai from legend Wasim Jaffer was his most memorable moment.
Here below is one of his best innings of his career. So much spin! Beautiful.
Here is Tambe’s hat-trick and 5-wicket hall in a T10 match that featured wickets of Chris Gayle, Eoin Morgan, and Kieron Pollard (Bowled!), Upul Tharanga – as a 47-year old. Wow!
By Nitesh Mathur, Broken Cricket Dreams, 3/24/2022
Time for IPL 2022! Yep, the festival is back—This time with two more teams. That is right! Welcome Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Kings!
Lot has changed since last time. A massive auction and an end of an era. No Suresh Raina, Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and although MS Dhoni & Virat Kohli are still here, they are no longer captains.
Without further ado, here is everything you need to know about IPL 2022 QUICKLY—Squads, Schedule, Latest Injury News, Commentators, History, and Predictions! By the end of this read, you should have all your IPL 2022 questions answered.
Venues: All the matches will be played in & around Mumbai:
DY Patil Stadium (Navi Mumbai)
MCA International Stadium (Pune)
IPL 2022 Groups
Chennai Super Kings
Kolkata Knight Riders
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Lucknow Super Giants
IPL 2022 Groups
*Note: Unlike previous IPLs, this is not going to be a round-robin tournament. To keep the number of games bearable, each team will play teams from their groups twice (as well as one team from the other group), and the rest of the team once. So that is two games against five teams and one game against the other four for a total of 14 matches.
Detailed team-by-team fixtures are displayed with each team below.
The big news in this arena is that Ravi Shastri is back in the commentary box after his coaching tenure with the Indian team came to an end. Also joining him are ex-IPL stars like Mr. IPL – Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, and Dhawal Kulkarni
Harsha Bhogle, Ian Bishop, Alan Wilkins, Pommie Mbangwa, Simon Doull, Sunil Gavaskar, Danny Morrison, Graeme Swann, Scott Styris, Neroli Medows, Anant Tyagi, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Murali Karthik, Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Hayden, Deep Dasgupta, Anjum Chopra, Nicholas Knight, WV Raman, Daren Ganga, Morne Morkel, Graeme Smith
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 2009, 2011, 2016 (Runner-Up)
Delhi Capitals: 2020 (Runner-Up)
Punjab Kings: 2014 (Runner-Up)
*Note: Rising Pune Supergiant reached the final of the 2017 IPL (Deccan Chargers Gujarat Lions, Sahara Pune Warriors India, Kochi Tuskers Kerela were the other teams to have featured in the IPL – Now defunct. Also, Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab were the earlier names of Delhi Capitals and Punjab Kings respectively).
2022 Indian Premier League News at A Glance
IPL 2022 Injury/Withdrawn List
Jofra Archer was eligible to be in the IPL 2022 auctions. However, he will not be playing this season due to an elbow injury. Watch out for MI in future seasons. Bumrah + Archer will be WOW!
Deepak Chahar is set to miss the IPL with a recurring quadriceps injury.
Anrich Nortje is suffering from an injury but is back with the squad (might not be available right away).
Jason Roy & Alex Hales withdraw due to bio bubble fatigue. Mark Wood is out of the IPL with an elbow injury.
Suryakumar Yadav is suffering from a hairline thumb fracture. He will miss the first match and may comeback soon.
Other IPL 2022 Major News
MS Dhoni steps down from captaincy. Ravindra Jadeja the new captain for CSK. Dhoni will however play as a player for one (or more) seasons.
Moeen Ali gets visa (late) and had to be quarantined. Hence, he will arrive by CSK’s second match.
IPL 2022 Team Availability
Every season, team combinations are impacted by international commitments. Here are the ongoing/future series that might collide with IPL 2022:
Bangladesh Tour of South Africa:Dwaine Pretorius (CSK), Kagiso Rabada (PBKS), and Lungi Ngidi & Mustafizur Rahman (both DC). However, they may only miss one or two matches since CSA has granted leave for Rabada, Ngidi, Jansen, Markram, and Rassie van der Dussen at the expense of the Test series. Read Firdose Moonda’s article explaining Money Matters.
Australia tour of Pakistan:Australian players are not granted a leave till April 6th, which means they will be unavailable for 4-5 matches for their respective teams. This includes Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch (KKR), Sean Abbott (SRH), Hazlewood/Behrendorff (RCB), Marcus Stoinis (LSG), and David Warner (first two matches). Oh and Glenn Maxwell is getting married, so let us leave him alone for a couple of weeks.
England tour of West Indies: Jonny Bairstow (PBKS), Alzarri Joseph (LSG) – Misses first two matches due to the Test series
NZ Tour of England:Starts in June but if their IPL teams qualify for the playoffs, Tim Southee (KKR) & Jonny Bairstow (PBKS) might miss out.
*Note: Netherlands tour of NZ series is also ongoing but NZ have released all their IPL bound players, so there is no conflict.
CSK’s strength lies in their all-rounders and bench strength. Moeen Ali, Jadeja, and Bravo make up the core but even if they sit out, Santner, Chris Jordan, Pretorius, and Dube are adequate replacements.
Out and out pace bowling. Without Chahar, Adam Milne is the lone spearhead of their fast bowling attack but Deshpande/Asif are a bit inexperienced.
Watch out for Devon Conway, or as he is known in CSK circuits—Mike Hussey 2.0.
Chennai Super Kings IPL 2022 Squad List
Robin Uthappa (WK)
MS Dhoni (C/WK)
Devon Conway (WK)
Overseas Players (by Nationality):
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne
Shubman Gill, 2. Matthew Wade (WK), 3. Wriddhiman Saha, 4. Hardik Pandya (C), 5. Vijay Shankar, 6. Rahul Tewatia, 7. Gurkeerat Singh Mann/Jayant Yadav, 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Mohammad Shami, 10. Lockie Ferguson, 11. Noor Ahmad/R Sai Kishore
Bowling line-up of envy—Rashid Khan, Shami, Lockie Ferguson, R Sai Kishore.They also bought most of the India allrounders in the last five years (Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Gurkeerat, Jayant Yadav, Tewatia)
Top order. Without Jason Roy, this is a think looking line up. Pandya-Shankar-Tewatia-Rashid can do wonders once in a while but lot rests of the Gill-Wade opening combination.
R Sai Kishore. Consistent performer for Tamil Nadu in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the domestic game. Should finally come off the bench and make his mark in the IPL.
Gujarat Titans IPL 2022 Squad List
Wriddhiman Saha (WK)
Matthew Wade (WK)
Rahmanullah Gurbaz (WK)
Hardik Pandya (C)
Gurkeerat Singh Mann
R Sai Kishore
Jason Roy* (withdrawn)
Overseas Players (by Nationality):
Australia: Matthew Wade
New Zealand:Lockie Ferguson
West Indies: Dominic Drakes
Afghanistan: Rashid Khan, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Noor Ahmad
The All-Round Package.If fit & in-form, Russell-Narine-Cummins-Venkatesh Iyer will be a handful. And captain Shreyas Iyer is in rich vein of form as well.
Wicketkeeper. With a long tournament, there are not many keeper options apart from Sheldon Jackson (Indian domestic) & Sam Billings. Fitting them into the middle order might change combinations in the XI.
Watch out for Chamika Karunaratne. With Cummins arriving after match 4 and Russell’s fitness never certain, Chamika could be a handy lower order bowling all-rounder.
The same core as before. Rohit-Ishan-Sky-Pollard-Bumrah.
The bowling cohort. Unadkat/Thampi are adequate players to come off the bench but not the ideal starters.They will also miss the Pandya brothers.
Watch out for the foreign recruits. Brevis was the batter of the U-19 World Cup, Tim David is the hardest hitting Singaporean in the T20 circuit, Fabian Allen’s reputation has gone up in the last couple of years, and a fit-Tymal Mills is a treat to watch.
Mumbai Indians IPL 2022 Squad List
Ishan Kishan (WK)
Aryan Juyal (WK)
*Jofra Archer (unavailable this season)
Overseas Players (by Nationality):
Australia: Riley Meredith, Daniel Sams, Tim David (Singapore/Australia)
Ravindra Jadeja is the captain of CSK in IPL 2022 as MS Dhoni steps down.
Who are all the IPL 2022 commentators?
Harsha Bhogle, Ian Bishop, Aan Wilkins, Pommie Mbangwa, Simon Doull, Sunil gavaskar, Danny Morrison, Graeme Swann, Scott Styris, neroli Medows, Anant Tyagi, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, Murali Karthik, Kevin Pietersen, Matthew Hayden, Deep Dasgupta, Anjum Chopra, Nicholas Knight, WV Raman, Daren Ganga, Morne Morkel, Graeme Smith head the English global broadcast unit, while Ravi Shastri, Suresh Raina, Aakash Chopra, Mohammad Kaif, Mayanti Langer Binny, Irfan Pathan, Parthiv Patel, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jatin Sapru, Tanya Purohit, Suren Sundaram are the Hindi/English commentators.
Who is the captain of RCB in IPL 2022?
After Virat Kohli stepped down, Faf du Plessis became the captain of RCB in IPL 2022.
What are the two new teams in IPL 2022?
Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants are the two new teams in IPL 2022.
And indeed, they did. Over the next hundred years, several of these challenging problems were either completely answered or partially solved. However, some of these problems remain unsolved even after a few centuries and failed attempts by great mathematicians.
At this point, you must be thinking, “Why I am reading four paragraphs of math when I signed up for cricket?”
Don’t worry. Here comes the cricket.
2021 had a fair share of its problems for cricket—The Azeem Rafiq scandals, Tim Paine’s sexting exit, Thailand women losing a spot in the World Cup due to a flawed system, Glenn Maxwell, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Tom Banton taking time off due to mental health, Quinton de Kock’s kneeling issue in the T20 World & then retiring from Test cricket at the age of 29, the dissolution of the ODI Super League, New Zealand & England pulling out of Pakistan, the Afghanistan crisis, The Hundred Vs County Cricket debate, and just a general overdose of the IPL & cricket.
For a full read on these issues, check the following articles out:
Today I propose a list of 15 problems that will keep the cricket community (ICC, administrators, and cricketers themselves) busy for the next decade.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Neither do I have any monetary reward for you. I offer possible solutions—some of them you might like. Others? Not so much. So, then what is the point of all this?
The point is to churn up debate and conversations in the cricket community so eventually some of these solutions reach the upper echelons of the cricket boards and ICC. Comment below on your thoughts and ideas. Who knows, your idea might one day change cricket altogether.
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1. Need for a Global Cricket Calendar and T20 Leagues
The Problem: How can the cricket calendar provide space to the three international formats—Test, ODI, and T20I—as well as the growing T20 leagues?
These days, cricket is here, there, and everywhere. Today, we have the BPL, PSL, IPL, Global T20 Canda, T20 Vitality Blast, The Hundred, CPL, Shpageeza Cricket League, T10 League, SLPL, MSL, Super Smash, and the Big Bash running from January to December.
Cricket will hit its ceiling in the next 5-10 years. With new T20 leagues growing around the world, IPL becoming a 10-team venture (twice a year IPL also proposed), T10 leagues, The Hundred, a ‘Ninety-90 Bash’, & other retired professional leagues adding to the calendar, what is the limit?
And don’t get me wrong. Leagues are not necessarily a bad thing—more opportunities for Associate cricketers, professional life for players who cannot make their international XIs, and more match practice & auditions to make comeback cases, but it does threaten the existence of international cricket as a whole.
Two-Three month reservation for the pinnacle of international cricket (T20/ODI WC, WTC Final), without T20 leagues during this period.
Reinstatement of the Champions League as the center of the T20 yearly calendar.
Enforcement of maximum of 3 leagues per year for a nationally contracted player.
Eventually, cricket may need to adopt the soccer (European football) model.
International games reserved only for ODI World Cup qualification, WTC matches, and some friendlies/warm-ups. As many have suggested, bilateral T20Is should be scrapped totally.
Players contracted by year-long leagues. They take leave to play a couple of international games every now and then until the World Cup, which dominates the summer every couple of years.
Experimental formats like T10 cricket and ‘Ninety-90’ Bash should end. Who knows, we might be playing a Super Over league at this rate.
The Indian Premier League and the BCCI holds a bit of influence over the cricket finances. If they reject any of the calendar limits, that may the end of any negotiations even though all the other cricketing nations might agree.
2. Decisiveness and Pathways on Olympics
The Problem: The ICC on cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics—Yes, No, maybe so?
For too long, cricket has dabbled with the idea of being in the Olympics and are closer than ever in making a decision. The 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games will include a women’s 8-team T20 tournament. USA Cricket hopes for the inclusion of cricket in the 2028 LA Olympics and the 2032 Brisbane Olympics being ICC’s long-term goal.
However, what format will it be? T10? T20? If it is T10, does that mean cricket will have a fourth international format? How will qualification work? At this point, there are way too many questions and zero details on a path forward.
If cricket is serious about being in the Olympics, the administrators need to get their acts together. One or two meetings a year just doesn’t cut it.
It is worth a try regardless of the format. Ideally T20 cricket, starting from the 2028 LA Olympics (building upon USA’s Major League Cricket) would be great for the game.
The format of soccer’s 4 group of 4 is a good template (16 teams in the Olympics instead of 32 in the FIFA World Cup to keep the WC as the pinnacle product). If the T20I WC expands to 16-24 teams (both men/women) in the next decade, the Olympics can start with 8-12 teams with the best 2-3 teams qualifying from each region.
Not every country has cricketing infrastructure. To create a consistent following, cricket at Olympics can only succeed if it is at every iteration. Unless cricket stadiums are built in every nation on earth, the ICC will have some complications in the early years at the Olympics.
Another tricky slope to navigate is the West Indies. Since each nation like Jamaica and Barbados will play the Olympics as its own nation, those teams will be significantly weaker in strength than the West Indies cricket team.
3. Expansion of the Women’s Game and Need for WIPL
The Problem: Women’s cricket is now mainstream, but is the structure in place to take the game forward?
Between 2017- March 2020, women’s cricket enjoyed a sort of golden era. The quality of cricket and broadcast in the 2017 ODI World Cup brought new fans to the game, and a record 86,174 attendance at the MCG for the 2020 WT20 Final proved that women’s cricket was on the rise.
However, the pandemic has exposed several gaps in the women’s game. For almost 12 months, women’s international cricket was largely halted around the world while the men’s IPL happened twice. Several smaller boards like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not seen much gameplay. Although India have played a few internationals, there does not seem to be a plan for women’s domestic cricket. And a request for the women’s IPL is falling on deaf ears.
Add to that, the crisis faced by Thailand, one of the rising teams in women’s cricket. When omicron abruptly cancelled the qualifying tournament, it was tough to not see them qualify for the ODI World Cup despite being #1 in the group since their ODIs were not given ODI status.
Surely the structure and expansion in women’s cricket needs more thought, structure, and investment.
In order for the multi-format series to become the standard, more Test cricket and 3-day practice matches have to become the norm, which will take time.
4. Planned T20 Exposure for Cricket’s Growth
The Problem: Roadmap and resource management needed for the rapid growth of T20I cricket in emerging markets.
While women’s cricket and the Olympics are avenues to cricket’s global expansion, the ICC is utilizing T20 cricket for the spread of the game. In 2018, T20I status was granted to every cricket team (As of January 2022, 91 men’s teams and 53 women’s teams are in the T20I rankings). Further, a regional qualifier structure was provided for future T20 World Cups, which will be held every two years.
All this is good, but how are the resources going to be divided among these nations? Will they get professional international stadiums, broadcasting rights, DRS, and facilities? Will they be able to host tournaments? (like the earlier ICC Knockout tournaments). Step in the right direction, but a lot of work to do in the decade ahead.
Just like a major Asia Cup tournament, each continent should set up their own major tournament (separate from the regional qualifiers). This will ensure that there is a systematic ranking/room to grow for the newer teams in each continent, and they are not here just to make up the numbers.
If teams ranked at the very bottom continue to lose, they might leave the game altogether. Some sort of incentive needs to be provided to these lower ranked newer cricketing nations.
II. Standard of Cricket
5. Standardization of Pitches in Test Match Cricket
The Problem: How Can We Balance Pitches to Minimize Boring Draws and 2-Day Tests?
In the 2000s, stellar middle orders and flat pitches combined for some high scoring matches and boring draws. Over the last 5-10 years, a great crop of fast bowlers (and spinners in the subcontinent) combined with pitches suited to the home side has made 2-day and 3-day Tests a recurring event.
Keep the pitches suited to home teams with 4-Day Tests (more on this later)
Preparing pitches suited to overseas conditions in domestic cricket (example: More spin tracks – weather permitting – in England’s county circuit) or encouraging/funding spin from an age group level (How India progressively became a better fast bowling nation, England can do that in the long run).
ICC standardize the pitches across the globe.
The beauty of Test cricket is in its variety. If the batters cannot overcome the challenge, so be it. That is life.
6. The Toss
The Problem: Is the toss leading to too many predictable results?
It was clear in the IPL and the 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE that teams winning the toss and batting second had a higher probability of winning.
The beauty of the toss is in the uncertainty, and when things start to get predictable, innovation becomes the need of the hour.
Tosses impact T20Is and Test cricket more than ODIs. So, one thought is to start experimenting with various ideas (listed below and more) in T20 leagues or domestic 4-day cricket, while leaving ODI cricket the same as it is now.
Each team alternates decision to bat/bowl in a series. (If an odd number, last match is decided by a coin toss…)
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Cricket is already complicated, why make it more complicated?
7. Bat Vs Ball Debate
The Problem: The Eternal Debate—How Can We better balance bat vs ball advantage?
This is the Riemann Hypothesis of cricket. A seemingly intuitive problem that is always up for discussion, has never been solved, and is the unproven underlying assumption that is the basis of strategy for the rest of cricket.
In limited overs cricket, the bat dominates (bigger bats, flat pitches, stronger players, etc.). In Test cricket over the last decade, the ball has dominated.
I have a truly marvelous solution to this, but the margins are too narrow to contain for my answer [Fermat’s Last Theorem].
Just kidding! Here they are:
Abolish wide behind leg side in limited overs. Small margins really do hurt the bowlers.
In Test cricket, one more review to the batting side instead of the bowling side.
In limited overs, one bowler can bowl a couple of overs more than the maximum limit of 10 overs (ODI) or 4 overs (T20I)
As players get physically stronger and technology increases, the balance will always remain one side or another. However, as spinners have shown in the middle overs in a T20 or fast bowlers during the death with the slower balls, adaptation of skill is required, not so much the mechanics of the bat and ball.
III. Survival of Test & ODI Cricket
8. Disparity Between Level of Performance in Test Cricket
The Problem: How can the gap between top and mid-tiered teams be reduced?
The gap between top and mid-tiered Test nations is gradually eroding confidence in Test cricket. Even though some spectacular matches in the last five years have reinvigorated Test cricket, gaps in skill level between the top sides and mid-tiered/bottom ranked teams makes for a boring viewing on the other end of the spectrum.
Social media’s pendulum swings from “Test cricket is the best format” claims to “Is Test cricket dying?” every few months.
Case and point: Men’s Ashes 2021-2022. Except for Jonny Bairstow’s 4th Test, there was absolutely no resistance. There have been several subsequent calls for the 5-Test Ashes to be reduced to a 3 or 4 match affair. If England, who play 10-15 Tests a year, are not properly utilizing resources and are behind the golden standard, how can we expect the likes of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Afghanistan to compete?
Regularized international schedule should dominate bilateral agreements. Australia’s refusal to host Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, and now Afghanistan (for other reasons) does not help smaller teams get the experience. The more the Top 4 countries play the mid-tiered teams, the better they will get in the long run.
Prioritizing domestic funding over white ball funding (County cricket vs white ball dominance)
Abolishment of two-Test series (The smaller countries only get to play 2 Tests while the Big 3 and South Africa gets 4-5 matches per series).
Relegation-Promotion system (details outlined below) in three brackets: Bracket A (#1-6), Bracket B (#7-12), and Bracket C (non-Test playing nations)
Money, money, money. Even the World Test Champions like New Zealand cannot afford to host more than two Tests due to finances. Ideally, we would like an equal distribution of Test match cricket, but if there are no finances, there is no cricket.
9. Associate nations, the ODI Super League, and the Expansion of Test Cricket
The Problem: Lack of clarity is hurting the survival of Associate nations, the backbone of global cricket.
The ODI Super League provided Ireland and Netherlands much needed game time against the top eight teams. Ireland actually has done a pretty decent job and Netherlands’ cricketers received much needed stability, but the inexplicable cancellation of the ODI Super League has stumped many. The World Test Championship has flaws, but the ODI Super League was a step in the right direction.
Yes, T20I is the right vehicle for growth in globalization of cricket, but should teams like Ireland be alienated, who have invested in ODI cricket and want to play Test cricket?
The ICC suggested that they may trial teams like Scotland and Netherlands into Test cricket as a temporary Test status. That might be a good move if it actually happens, but here are some other solutions:
Touring Associate and new Test nations before embarking on a 4-5 Test tour (playing ODIs/T20Is vs Scotland/Netherlands & 1-off Test vs Ireland before a series in England, vs Afghanistan before India, vs PNG before NZ & Aus, Namibia/Zimbabwe vs SA). This is happening more and more with Ireland’s progress, but it is only the beginning.
Revival of the Tri-Series? Similar idea as above, but to reduce logistic and travel issues, two full members plus an Associate nation for an ODI tri-series in a common location.
Mandatory 1-2 Associate players per squad per T20 league. Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Tim David, and Sandeep Lamichanne are great templates. These players will be a boon for the franchises, not a burden.
10. 4-Day Tests for Men, 5-Day Tests for Women?
The Problem: Making Test cricket accessible for spectators without jeopardizing the game.
The Decision Review System (DRS) and pink-ball day-night Tests have now been adopted as major innovations in the game which had resistance in the early days. In the age of technology and innovation, cricket has to find ways to re-invent itself and stay relevant every 5-10 years.
One such suggestion is 4-day Tests (plus a 5th day for rain affected games) for men’s cricket, while expanding to 5-day Tests in women’s cricket, especially since they do not play as many Tests.
Just like D/N Tests were tested one Test per series every now and then, similarly one of the Tests can be scheduled as a 4-day game (and vice-versa for women)
Draws. One of the major drivers for 5-matches in women’s Tests are the number of draws. This forces teams to declare early (even when they are trailing) and enforce follow-on more often. If men’s game introduces 4-day Tests, then strategies will similarly begin to change and/or draws will increase.
11. Fixes to the World Test Championship
The Problem: Test matches are now better contextualized, but a lot is still left to be desired in achieving a better system.
We have already provided several solutions for World Test Champions in our earlier articles (shown below), so here is a summary:
Number of Tests Played is uneven: In the first WTC cycle, England played 21 Tests, while West Indies, South Africa, and New Zealand played 11 each. Marquee series like Ashes, Border-Gavaskar, Basil D’Oliveira Trophy, etc. are 4-5 Tests each while SL & NZ only play 2 Tests regularly.
Currently no distinction is made for Home/Away advantage: Bangladesh winning in NZ, West Indies winning in Bangladesh, India winning in Australia, or Australia drawing in England should be worth more than home wins.
All-or-Nothing System:Test matches occur over 5 days or a max-of-15 sessions. One session can have a huge impact on the series. Yet, the points are awarded on an all-or-nothing basis.
No system is every going to be perfect, but at least more of an attempt can be made. One of the other pitfalls is the pandemic. This has severely restricted travels between countries and longer, more straining quarantine rules. Hence, even more uneven number of Tests are begin played.
IV. Other Concerns
12. Mental Health Support & Overkill of Cricket
The Problem: Mental Health Awareness A Necessity in Today’s sport
Non-stop cricket alongside heavy quarantine is changing the commitments of a professional cricketer. Itis no longer feasible to play three international formats, travel around the world, away from family, and still have a sane mental health.
Marcus Trescothick, Glenn Maxwell, and Ben Stokes are some of the many high-profile players who have taken time off the game to focus on their health. They have paved a way for many others in the future to follow. The real question is, does the cricket fraternity have the support each player needs and deserves?
Support Groups/Staff, Paid Leave
Separate teams for separate formats (Maximum of two formats per player)
Mental health is still looked as taboo in many cultures. Even though awareness is increasing, some players may still keep things to themselves, which is detrimental.
In addition to mental health, physical health is also a concern as more research is done on concussions in general. Concussion substitutes were a great innovation to the game, but it took the death of Phillip Hughes for the radical change. Let us make sure to be proactive before any such incidents. Injury prevention and player health should be duly monitored.
13. Spot Fixing and Associate Nations
The Problem: Match-Fixing for the Next Decade
Brendan Taylor’s story illustrates that even in the year 2022, match fixing & spot-fixing is still an issue cricket needs to be careful against. After the spot fixing that emerged from Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010 and the growth of T20 leagues, there is a lot more education and maturity in ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
However, teams like Zimbabwe and Associate nations, whose players do not earn a survivable income or cash flow from leagues, are easy targets for corruptors (as seen in the UAE). So the nature of match fixing might have changed since the 1990s, but it is still a problem that threatens the core fabric of the sport in one way or another.
The structure of the ICC anti-corruption unit and education before every major tournament shows that cricket has already matured in most of this regard. The real responsibility now lies on the players for self-reporting such approaches.
Healthy compensation for Associate players can also prevent such instances.
In the age of technology, new forms of corruption might appear (cyberattacks, ransomwares, NFTs?) ICC needs to be proactive and take actions earlier.
The Problem: ICC and cricket boards’ philosophical stand on the Afghanistan women’s team and the status of the men’s team.
Post the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in September, cricket’s stakeholders have been sending mixed messages. Australia rescinded their invitation to Afghanistan for a Test match due to a lack of a women’s team/Taliban’s stance on women. However, requirement for a women’s team was waived off when Afghanistan became a Full member four years ago.
The ICC allowed Afghanistan in the 2021 T20 World Cup at UAE and many Afghani players are contracted around the world despite the drama. On the other hand, Zimbabwe was not allowed to qualify for the 2019 ODI World Cup due to crisis in the Zimbabwean government.
Why are players/ sports’ teams penalized for government interference? Why is different approach taken against different countries? Who sets the precedent?
Afghanistan is a cricket-loving country, and we should not stop its growth despite political tensions. They have now qualified for their 2nd U-19 semi-finals in the last three attempts. Let the men’s team continue to blossom while promoting cricket in age levels for women’s cricket if situation allows.
Each country might have a different political relationship with Afghanistan, which may mean a conflict of interest. As a byproduct, the relationship between other cricket boards can get strained.
15. Player Behavior
Problem: Similar Player Behavorial Issues, Different Consequences
As players gain more power over administrators due to financial security and unions, there have been some side-effects. Players have been acting up a lot lately.
Shakib Al Hasan’s antics (not much backlash), Ollie Robinson’s tweets (socially alienated), Alex Hales & Joe Clarke (not selected in the national side), Sri Lanka’s players in England (suspended for six months), Steven Smith, David Warner, & Cameron Bancroft’s sandpaper gate ball tampering scandal (banned by Cricket Australia for 1 year), Netherlands’ ball tampering (4 matches ICC), Quinton de Kock defying teammates (kneeling and not playing) and Virat Kohli shouting at the stumps (no consequence).
Digging up old tweets should be removed as a cultural practice.
For major offences, a uniform code of conduct that applies to every player regardless of the cricket board they are playing under.
An impartial body assigned to monitor and judge player behavior for uniform convictions
Each circumstance is different. Uniform offences might not be ideal. On the other hand, ICC vs national boards hierarchy will become muddled if ICC centralizes power.
This is not the end. More avenues and ideas to explore for sure. Please bring in your comments. Would love to hear YOUR opinion. Thanks everyone for reading ❤ Anyway, time to go the duel or swim across the shores of France…
*Thank You Credit: In conversation with my friend, Vandit. Thanks for listening to my ideas and engaging in meaningful discussion.
Imagine it is the 1940s. You are working at Bell Labs, one of the world’s premier research laboratories, an abode of inventions. Computers are at the beginning of their evolution, and programming still occurs on punched cards.
You work day and night in the week, and guess what? One error in the code and the program stops. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, the machine detects and warns you that there is an error.
So as a brilliant scientist who has been a part of the Manhattan Project, what do you do? You work nights & weekends and develop an algorithm so that the machine can itself correct the errors, without the need for human intervention.
The year is 1950. You have published this paper and revolutionized computer science & information theory.
Now fast forward to the 2004. You are playing for the Indian national cricket team, one of the world’s premier cricketing nations, an abode of talent. Wicketkeeper batters are at the beginning of their evolution, and finishing limited over games is still at its infancy.
You work day and night on tours, and guess what? One poor series, and the selectors drop you. Hard work down the drain. On the bright side, selectors warn you that you have to play a different role in order to come back.
So as a budding young cricketer who has been a part of the 2004 U-19 World Cup, what do you do? You practice day in and day out, improve your technical faults, and comeback as a successful opener in swinging conditions to help India win a series in England in 2007.
A few months go by. Inconsistency creeps in. Dropped.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The year is 2021. You have claimed your fame to glory in that Nidahas Trophy final and revolutionized the role of a finisher.
Your name is Karthik, Dinesh Karthik.
Dinesh Karthik’s story is not in the career averages or amount of runs scored. Neither is it in number of comebacks. It is in the way the comebacks were constructed. Over the years, inconsistency has decreased, reassurance has increased, and in his own words, he has managed to stay ‘relevant.’
In simple terms, he has perfected the art of self-correction.
Dinesh Karthik’s Initialization
Algorithms have improved vastly since the Hamming code days. Yet, there are three main components of a self-correcting algorithm: Initialization, self-calibration, and error correction.
On the back of good domestic form, Dinesh Karthik was selected for the 2004 U-19 World Cup. This team included future Indian nationals in Robin Uthappa, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, and RP Singh. Following a decent domestic and India A season, he found himself in the national reckoning alongside Parthiv Patel as India were trying to find a permanent replacement to makeshift keeper in Rahul Dravid.
He would not bat in an ODI for another two years, but was picked for Tests against Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe. After having a top score of only 46 in his first six Tests, he finally made a mark scoring 93 in the second innings against Pakistan. However, a loss of form and Dhoni’s memorable 148 at #3 in that Pakistan ODI series meant Karthik was briefly dropped from the Test side and traveled only as a reserve keeper for the next year.
One of the interesting traits of Karthik’s unusual career has been that when he is dropped in Tests, he finds a place in ODIs and vice versa. Later in his career, he was recalled in ODI & Test cricket based on his T20 form.
Case and point is 2006. Karthik enjoyed a good run in the limited overs although he was out of the Test side.
Although he would not get a game in the ODI World Cup, he played as a pure batter in the inaugural T20 World Cup with Dhoni behind the stumps. Low scores followed in the T20 World Cup, but he provided India with a bit of magic in the semi-final—a one handed diving catch to dismiss Graeme Smith.
Nasser Hussain on commentary summed up Dinesh Karthik’s entire career accurately in one sentence
“They say Dinesh Karthik is the two extremes—he drops dollies and he takes some spectacular catches.”
Error Correction Part I: Karthik’s Golden Year in Test Cricket
The year 2007 was DK’s best time in Test cricket.
By this time, it was clear that he could not make the XI based on his keeping skills alone. The Fab 4’s presence meant that the middle order was crowded. However, Sehwag & Gambhir had been dropped, which meant there was a slight opening.
Enter Dinesh Karthik 2.0—the opener. With Wasim Jaffer, he formed a brief yet formidable partnership.
In the third Test at Cape Town, the Jaffer-Karthik experiment paid dividend with a 153-opening partnership in the first innings. Karthik scored 63 as an opener and followed it up with 38* at #7.
In the tour of Bangladesh, he was given a permanent opening spot and returned with scores of 56, 22, and 129, his only Test century. Then, came India’s tour of England. Despite not scoring a hundred, scores of 60, 77, & 91 meantthat he ended up as India’s highest Test scorer—263 runs, 3 fifties, 518 balls faced to go along Jaffer’s 409 balls, which helped India successfully dent the new ball.
Pushed back to the middle order after just 2 more Tests, he could only muster 157 runs in 11 innings with a best of 52 against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. He would get another opportunity in Tests in 2010 before being dropped for another eight years.
On his come back against Afghanistan’s inaugural Test in 2018, he himself said in a press conference that in his earlier stint in Test cricket,
“I guess I wasn’t good enough before… I was not consistent enough.”
When he was out of favor in Tests in 2008, he did receive several opportunities in ODIs, scoring a few middling scores and featuring in India’s 2009 Champions Trophy squad. His best ODI innings of 79 runs came in 2010 with a 196-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar during his historic double century.
14 innings later, with only 1 50+ score & 2 ducks, he was dropped—this time for three years.
Error Correction Part II: Dinesh Karthik, Journey To The Center Again
More competition, more errors, longer time to fix. Enter Dinesh Karthik 3.0—the middle order batter.
It took a 3-year hiatus before Karthik stormed back. In IPL 2013 as the #3 batter for Mumbai Indians, he amassed 510 runs, only behind Rohit Sharma for MI. The innings where his highest score that season of 86 was possibly his best IPL innings (so far).
This performance earned him a ticket on the 2013 Champions Trophy and his best ‘List A’ moment came in the warm-up games, when he scored two back to back centuries, scoring 106* & 146* batting at #6. This tournament is fondly remembered for the beginning of the Shikhar Dhawan-Rohit Sharma opening partnership, which meant Karthik did not get much of a chance with 51* against West Indies his best knock.
A few months later, India failed to qualify for the Asia Cup finals and Karthik’s 21* vs Afghanistan would be his final innings for yet another 3 years.
Let us take a slight detour like his career took around 2014.
What is your favorite part about watching Dinesh Karthik? For me, it has always been his unconventional demeanor, starting from his batting routine. The moment he arrives at the crease, it is pure theater. Walking in with urgency, rolling the gloves around, dancing from side to side, taking guard, moving his helmet, meditating on the side. Excitement and apprehension at the same time.
As a keeper he is always chirping and speaking to the bowler, most famously with his partnership in KKR with Varun Chakravarthy or with R Ashwin in Team India.
But surely, so much energy must definitely be a burden. A volcano ready to erupt if the energy is not channeled properly.
A Nervous Bundle of Energy
In order to come back to the Indian national side, DK needed to recalibrate.
In a Breakfast With Champions interview with Gaurav Kapur, he described the time with Abhishek Nayar as a ‘mental bootcamp.’ 40-lap swimming, 45-minute uphill runs, sweeping the house, visualizing match scenarios, and extreme fitness training pushed DK out of his comfort zone. He reflected that
“When you push yourself out of your comfort zone when nobody is watching you and there is no glory attached to it and you just do it quietly because somewhere in life you want to achieve something, overall in time it does help you.”
This experience added an extra dimension to DK’s wide array of skills. He was always a good player of spin, but once he was in a good head space post-Nayar, he literally reinvented his batting—the sweeps, laps, reverse sweeps, and swivel across the crease came with increased frequency.
Errors Correction III – Consistency in Domestic Cricket
While his 2013 comeback was largely on the backs of the IPL, the 2017 comeback was due to the weight of runs in domestic trophy. He was among the runs in Ranji Trophy and has been consistent in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the past five years.
At the peak of his batting powers, DK was hitting the ball as nicely as anybody at that time. Sanjay Manjrekar stated that at that time, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya were the only two Indian batters who could time the ball from ball one.
By this time, the pattern was set. Another Champions Trophy, yet another come back. Although he did not make the XI, in the next few matches after the trophy he scored 50*, 48, 37, 64* in consecutive games across ODIs & T20Is. It was a signal that he had added consistency to his arsenal.
Accuracy Improvement – Dinesh Karthik, The Finisher
After grinding it out in domestic cricket and becoming a much more calm and mature individual, it was time for Dinesh Karthik 4.0 to enter—Dinesh Karthik, the finisher.
From after the 2017 Champions to before the 2019 Cricket World Cup, DK slowly grew into the finisher role, remaining not-out 20 times out of the 35 ODIs or T20Is he played in.
After 14 years of sharpening his skills, beast mode was finally unlocked in the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka.
Short & sweet contributions in every game: 13* (6), 2* (2), 39* (25), 2* (2), and 29* (8). He could not be dismissed throughout the series.
The final was a night to remember. With Mustafizur’s wicket maiden in the 18th and a struggling Vijay Shankar at the other end, hope was all but lost.
The Night of the Final
Then comes in Dinesh Karthik. Rubel Hossain steams in and attempts a yorker. DK sits back and hits it over a long on for six. There is still life left in the game. Then came a heave for four and another one for six! Colombo crowd is going wild.
Couple of balls later, Karthik moves around crease and scoops it over fine leg—22 run over.
Final over, DK off strike, India need 12.
Wide, dot, 1,1, 4 (Shankar), Out. Five runs, one ball, one man. Over pitched delivery outside the off stump, DK times it with a full follow through. FLAT SIX. INDIA WIN! Captain Rohit Sharma said that DK was a bit upset being moved to #7, but he managed to channel the anger into good effect.
Given that India have not won a major ICC trophy since 2013, this memorable win stands at a high place for Indian fans. With 120 million and 211 millionviews for the 19th and 20th over respectively, this is easily the most watched cricket video (and possibly any sports video). Relive those moments below.
The Comeback Ends & The 2019 Cricket World Cup
He continued his Nidahas Trophy form in IPL 2018 with the Kolkata Knight Riders franchise, scoring 498 runs at 49.80 with a strike rate of 147.77.
However selection across formats would come back to haunt him. He would make another comeback in Test cricket, but scores of 4, 0, 20, 1, 0 would be the end of his Test career. He would be in and out of the limited overs side, sometimes batting at #4 in Asia Cup ODIS, and sometimes almost finishing T20Is in New Zealand.
A score of 97* in IPL 2019 followed as he narrowly made the cut in the World Cup squad.
The Russian Roulette selection among Dinesh Karthik, Kedhar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, and most infamously, Ambati Rayudu probably hurt all five and India in the 2019 Cricket World Cup semi-final. Surprisingly promoted to No. 5, he tried to stem the fall of wickets before Jimmy Neesham’s brilliant catch ended his ODI career.
Is There Another Comeback On The Horizon?
He was one of the casualties of India’s post-tournament analysis, even dropped from the T20I side, where he had reasonable success.
Post-COVID, he had a tough time at the 2020 IPL, averaging only 14.08, his second worst season. Although he took KKR to a playoff spot in 2018, he would relieve captaincy duties to Eoin Morgan for the remainder of 2020 and 2021.
Since then, he has been vocal about fighting for a place in one of the T20 World Cups in the next two years purely as a finisher. Still the best finisher in India alongside Ravindra Jadeja & Hardik Pandya, the real question is, will we see DK 5.0?
Commentary Stint and The T-Shirt Collection
Even though we do not know his cricketing career will pan out, there is already a brief glimpse into the future.
He has become a social media celebrity with his Sky Sports stint providing apt analysis, providing daily weather updates, and most famously, showing the world his enviable T-shirt collection.
Karthik’s Legacy: Did he underachieve or overachieve?
Representing your nation in one international tournament is is an honor. In a topsy-turvy career, Karthik has somehow managed to be a part of the 2007 ODI World Cup, 2007 T20 World Cup, 2009 Champions Trophy, 2013 Champions Trophy, 2017 Champions Trophy, and the 2019 ODI World Cup. Sprinkle a couple of Asia Cups in there as well.
There are two school of thoughts on Dinesh Karthik’s career. Did he fulfill his potential? Maybe. Maybe not.
From a glass half empty perspective, one can observe that as a gifted batter and a giant in domestic cricket, he could not make most of his opportunities and cement a place in the Indian national team. On the other hand, he never got an extended run in one format at a time, constantly playing in different roles and formats. Hence, the fact that we are still talking about him after 17 years is still an achievement.
DK’s career consisted of memorable high peaks in a relatively plateau of a career. Opening in England, twin List A tons in Champions Trophy warm ups, winning an IPL Trophy with Mumbai Indians and T20I World Cup in 2007, stumpings and catches galore, and giving fans the Nidahas Trophy Final to cherish, he has made his mark.
“Even if I don’t get the opportunity to play sport at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I have given it everything I have had. Not only on the field, but off the field.”
The Road Less Traveled By
Robert Frost wrote in his famous poem The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
When India needed a wicketkeeper, Dinesh Karthik was a wicketkeeper. India needed an overseas opener, in came DK, the opener. When they needed a #4, he became a #4. Finally, when all the spots were filled, he became a specialist finisher.
Although he was an anomaly in the previous era, current Indian wicketkeepers might keep an eye on his career very carefully. It is likely that not all of KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Ishan Kishan, KS Bharat will get a constant run. So they should be prepared to be dropped and come back stronger, maybe with a different role.
Dinesh Karthik’s career might not have gone according to the original plan but his journey has been interesting nevertheless. He modified his approach, adapted to the circumstances, and always strived to improve his individual game.
What Can We Learn From Dinesh Karthik?
Numerous players were dropped at an early age and could never find a way to come back. Others could manage to comeback only briefly because they were pigeonholed to a single role. Karthik frequently took the road less traveled by, refined his old skills, while learning new ones at the go.
When he arrived in the international arena, he was a good player who had the potential to excel in three formats and don several roles. After years of repetitive self correction and recalibration, he has now developed his own unique niche—overs 16 to 20 as a T20 finisher, a position where he is the best. Power-hitters like Pollard, Russell, and Pandya might be better finishers in general but not many have the match awareness and can play the field as Karthik does in those end overs.
So what can we learn from Dinesh Karthik? Always be self-aware, prepare for the worst, focus on the process, wear nice shirts, be yourself, adapt to the surroundings, be ready for the opportunity, and provide energy to others around you.
I would love to finish this article with a bang, but what can I say—The finisher is not yet finished.
Test: 26 matches, 1025 runs, 25.00 average, best of 129, 100s/50s – 1/7, 57 catches, 6 stumpings
ODI: 94 matches, 1752 runs, 30.20 average, best of 79, 50s-9, 64 catches, 7 stumpings
T20I: 32 matches, 399 runs, 33.25 average, 143.52 SR, best of 48, 14 catches, 5 stumpings
T20: 321 matches, 6221 runs, 27.40 average, 133.55 SR, best of 97*, 193 catches, 61 stumpings
IPL & Dinesh Karthik’s Career In a Nutshell
2004: ODI, Test debuts
2004-05: Tests only
2006: T20I debut, ODIs only
2007: ODI World Cup, Test opener, T20I World Cup (winner), Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain)
2008: 1 T20I, 3 Tests only, Delhi Daredevils
2009-2010: Mostly ODIs, some T20Is, 1 Test, Delhi Daredevils
2011: Kings XI Punjab
2012: Mumbai Indians
2013: ODIs only, Champions Trophy winner, Mumbai Indians (winners)
2014: ODIs only, Delhi Daredevils
2015: Royal Challengers Bangalore
2016: Gujarat Lions
2017: Champions Trophy, ODIs, Gujarat Lions
2018: T20Is, Nidahas Trophy, Test recall, ODI #4 battle, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
2019: T20Is, ODIs, ODI World Cup, dropped, Kolkata Knight Riders (captain)
2020: Kolkata Knight Riders (captain, 7 matches)
2021: Syed Mushtaq Ali winners (captain), Kolkata Knight Riders
“The lead up to the [2008 auctions], Dinesh Karthik the person was convinced the best player from Tamil Nadu, the biggest name from Tamil Nadu playing for the country…definitely CSK were going to pick me. The question was whether they were going to make me captain or not….It was the biggest dagger to my heart. It’s been 13 years and I am still waiting for that elusive call from CSK”
With India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in this group already set, this is a mini Asia Cup battle. In the preliminary qualification round, if Sri Lanka is ranked 2 in Group A and if Bangladesh tops Group B, we might see a potential 5/6 Asian teams!
This might not be named the Group of Death from the outside, but I think this group will be closer than it appears. Here is our team-by-team analysis—Most Balanced, Surprise Exclusions, In-Form Inclusions and Predictions!
Prediction:Rank 3rd in Group 2. In spin conditions, if their batters can put up a decent score, expect Afghanistan to surprise a few of the big teams.
Does Afghanistan Have It In Them To Win the T20 World Cup?
Another World Cup. Another captaincy change right before the World Cup for Afghanistan. Rashid Khan had received the captaincy baton from Asghar Afghan, but he has resigned on the eve on the World Cup since he was not consulted for the WC squad. Add to that the current political situation, and Afghanistan’s entry in the WC is not even guaranteed.
Iconic trio Hamid Hassan, Mohammad Shahzad, and Shapoor Zadran return after years of international hiatus. Fitness will be the key concern, but Afghanistan have a good mix of youth and experience. They are also guaranteed 5 games in the main draw.
Unlucky to Miss Out: Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur (reserves), Washington Sundar (injured), Shikhar Dhawan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Krunal Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Natarajan, Khaleel Ahmed, Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson, Dinesh Karthik. If you want the list of all 75 players which form Indian cricket team’s depth, read this.
Surprise Inclusions: R Ashwin, Varun Chakravarthy, MS Dhoni (Mentor)
Watch Out For: Trial by Spin—Rahul Chahar, R Ashwin, & Varun Chakravarthy can single handedly bamboozle most batting lineups. With Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel providing control, India might not have to chase large targets. Expect Ashwin in powerplays, Chahar-Jadeja in middle overs, and if he plays, Varun at the death.
Prediction:Rank 2nd in Group 2. Since this side has not played together, India might drop a game or two till they figure out their best XI, but should find momentum towards the latter stages of the tournament.
Does India Have It In Them To Win the T20 World Cup?
A well balanced side overall. Selectors have finally picked IPL as the standard for T20I selection and separated it from ODI players. IPL dynasty Mumbai Indians have six players in this 15.
Shikhar Dhawan was the highest scorer for India in both the ODI and T20I series against Sri Lanka and has been at the top of the charts (with decent SR) in the last two IPLs, but has still not made the cut. Bold move to cut Chahal but Chahar is the in-form leg spinner.
India have punted on spinning conditions and hence, exposed their fast bowling. Too much responsibility on Bumrah? Will we see a Sharma-Kohli opening partnership? Can India finally add an ICC Trophy after a decade of semi-finals and runner-ups trophy?
New Zealand T20 World Cup Squad
Spin Bowling All-Rounders
Medium Pace All-Rounders
Group 1 2021 T20 World Cup Squads: New Zealand
New Zealand Probable XI
Tim Seifert (WK), 2. Martin Guptill, 3. Kane Williamson (C), 4. Devon Conway, 5. Glenn Phillips, 6. Jimmy Neesham, 7. Mitchell Santner, 8. Tim Southee, 9. Lockie Ferguson, 10. Ish Sodhi, 11. Trent Boult
Average Age: 30
Unlucky to Miss Out: Colin de Grandhomme, Will Young, Finn Allen, Tom Blundell, Henry Nicholls/Tom Latham/Ross Taylor, Doug Bracewell/Hamish Bennett/Jacob Duffy/Blair Tickner, Ajaz Patel
Surprise Inclusions: Mark Chapman, Todd Astle
Watch Out For:Lockie Ferguson & Devon Conway. Ferguson’s KKR experience in UAE might come in handy and can Conway continue his dream debut year?
Prediction:Rank 4th in Group 2. Although a great team on paper, going against 3-5 Asian sides in UAE will just not be an easy task.
Does New Zealand Have It In Them To Win the T20 World Cup?
Interesting team selection this based on condition and form. Glenn Phillips-Conway-Seifert had solidifed their positions with a rich run of form last year. This meant that Will Young and Finn Allen could not break in the squad despite great T20I performances toward the end. Great depth in New Zealand cricket means several players had to miss out.
Colin de Grandhomme is the interestesting exclusion for me. If fit, he could have been devastating but Mitchell-Neesham-Santner-Jamieson have booked their tickets with a coule of good performances earlier in the year. Adam Milne unlucky to just be in the reserves because he is been on fire in the Big Bash and The hundred since his comeback. End of T20Is for Ross Taylor.
Pakistan T20 World Cup Squad
Spin Bowling All-Rounders
Medium Pace All-Rounders
Shaheen Shah Afridi
Group 1 2021 T20 World Cup Squads: Pakistan
Pakistan Probable XI
Babar Azam (C), 2. Mohammad Rizwan, 3. Mohammad Hafeez, 4. Sohaib Maqsood, 5. Imad Wasim, 6. Azam Khan/Khushdil Shah/Asif Ali, 7. Shadab Khan, 8. Hasan Ali, 9. Mohammad Nawaz, 10. Haris Rauf, 11. Shaheen Shah Afridi
Average Age: 27
Unlucky to Miss Out: Fakhar Zaman, Usman Qadir (Reserves), Iftikhar Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Faheem Ashraf, Haider Ali, Sharjeel Khan, Imam-ul-Haq, Hussain Talat, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Misbah-ul-Haq, Waqar Younis (Coach)
Prediction:Rank 1 in Group 2. Should get through the group with ease before collapsing in the semi-finals.
Does Pakistan Have It In Them To Win the T20 World Cup?
Pakistan have opted for a young squad dropping all of Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfaraz, and Wahab Riaz. If the lower order of Imad Wasim-Shadab-Hasan Ali can consistently score some quick runs, Pakistan will be in good shape.
The top 4 do not have competition from others in the squad, so expect Babar-Rizwan-Hafeez-Maqsood to play with freedom. Shaheen Shah Afridi-Haris Rauf-Nawaz-Hasan Ali-Shadab-Imad-Hafeez make a potent bowling line up as well. Would have liked Zaman, Qadir, Faheem Ashraf, and one of the seniors in the 15 but overall, the squad is pretty solid nevertheless.
PSL finished its post-COVID leg of the tournament, and the IPL will soon have its post-COVID leg in the UAE ending just a few days before the T20 World Cup begins. The BCCI has even proposed a 10-team IPL or two IPLs in a year from next year.
Where does this stop? T10 & T20 leagues are popping left and right. Tournaments beginning, stopping, and resuming whenever they feel like. What is the result? Debatable rotation policies, career-threatening injuries, early retirements, and players choosing leagues over international cricket.
Champions League T20 (CLT20) was an intriguing experiment held between 2009-2014 that unearthed stars like Kieron Pollard. Modeled on European football, what could possibly go wrong when the best T20 teams in the world competed together?
Yet, even with such good intentions, the tournament failed—Cluttered international calendar, revenue shortfall, growing success of the IPL, and the initial failure of other leagues were prominent factors.
The strength of the IPL contract meant that if a player represented multiple teams that qualified, they would be obligated to play for their IPL team.
By 2013-14, it was evident that the Indian Premier League was miles ahead. In 2013 (MI vs RR) & 2014 (CSK vs KKR) editions, both finalists were IPL teams. In 2014, 3 out of the 4 semifinalists were IPL teams (KXIP). The domestic teams from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, West Indies, Sri Lanka, and South Africa failed to get this far after a decent show between 2009-2012.
CLT20 catered towards the IPL, and that is why it failed.
Why is the Revival of the Champions League Needed?
Seven years later, it is time to rethink the T20 calendar. The Big Bash is now a decade old. CPL & BPL are 8 years strong. PSL is 5 years old, and even Sri Lanka, South Africa, and England have formed stable leagues.
Half a decade ago, there were just a few T20 specialists—Brendon McCullum, Brad Hodge, AB De Villiers, Yusuf Pathan, and the World Cup winning West Indies generation. Now we have T20 specialists everywhere like Babar Azam, Tom Banton, Finn Allen, Dawid Malan, Tim Seifert, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, James Vince, Alex Hales, Paul Stirling, David Wiese, Rovman Powell—talented players that do not make the XI or even squads of the IPL teams.
Last year, Trinbago Knight Riders were undefeated to their CPL title –12 consecutive wins. Imagine a TKR versus Mumbai Indians Champions League battle? Will be a cracker of the contest if it is a fair contest—Which team does Trinbago’s captain Pollard play for?
How Can The International and T20 Calendar Coexist?
Here are some possible solutions:
If the player is contracted by a national team, they should be obligated to represent their domestic T20 league in case of a conflict. Hence, Pollard would play for TKR instead of MI.
For a nationally contracted player, maximum of 3 leagues per year should be enforced. This would keep conflicts to a minimum.
Boards should accept responsibility and postpone the league till next year’s window in case the league is suspended.
This would lead to an interesting mix of international players in the leagues. Since NZ/Australia do not play much between June-October, players might choose IPL-the Hundred/CPL-BBL, while English players might choose PSL-IPL-The Hundred.
The Ideal Cricket Calendar
ICC has announced its tournament calendar for the next eight years. Each year, either a T20 WC, ODI WC, World Test Championship Final, or Champions Trophy will occur. A couple of months should be sidelined as the pinnacle of the international calendar.
Here is how the T20 calendar stands so far:
Bangladesh Premier League (BPL)
January – February
Pakistan Super League (PSL)
February – March
Indian Premier League (IPL)
March – May
Global T20 Canada (GT20)
June – July
T20 Vitality Blast
July – September
July – August
Caribbean Premier League (CPL)
August – September
Shpageeza Cricket League/ Afghanistan Premier League (APL)
September – October
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
November – December
Lanka Premier League (LPL)
November – December
Mzansi Super League (MSL)
November – December
December – January
Big Bash League (BBL)
December – February
If the Champions League needs to be revived, September-October is an ideal month subject to the dates of world tournaments that year.
The debate between T20 leagues and international cricket is over. The leagues are here to stay, so why not coexist in a peaceful manner? At the moment, everything is disorganized, so why not organize it for the greater good of cricket.
Champions League History (2009-2014)
# of Teams (# of Nations)
New South Wales (AUS)
Trinidad and Tobago (WI)
New South Wales, Victorian Bushrangers (AUS) Sussex Sharks, Somerset Sabres (ENG) Deccan Chargers, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Daredevils (IND) Otago Volts (NZ) Cape Cobras, Diamond Eagles (SA) Trinidad and Tobago (WI) Wayamba (SL)
Chennai Super Kings (IND)
Victorian Bushrangers, Southern Redbacks (AUS) Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore (IND) Central Districts Stags (NZ) Warriors, Highveld Lions (SA) Wayamba Elevens (SL) Guyana (WI)
Mumbai Indians (IND)
Royal Challengers Bangalore (IND)
Southern Redbacks, New South Wales Blues (AUS) Somerset (England) Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians (IND) Warriors, Cape Cobras (SA) Trinidad and Tobago (WI)
Since MS Dhoni’s men lifted the inaugural T20I World Cup trophy in 2007, the Indian cricket team has failed to reach those heights again in the T20 format.
Indian Premier League is cricket world’s most lucrative and competitive tournament, providing Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) the monopoly to dominate cricket politics. Its influence has reached such an extent that England is even proposing to host the remainder of the IPL by reducing the 5-Test series, but that is another story.
While IPL’s brand has hit the ceiling over the past decade, the quality of the Indian international T20I team has remained stagnant.
One of the main reasons is BCCI’s reluctance to let Indian cricketers play in foreign leagues—the Hundred, CPL, BBL, BPL, PSL, Abu Dhabi T10 among others.
1. The Argument – Out of Favor Players Need an Outlet
India is sending separate squads for the England Test tour and Sri Lanka limited-overs series, an insight into the future.
Separate squads for different formats mean more international spots for domestic players. Yet, fringe players have limited opportunities. Out-of-favor players should have multiple outlets to stake a claim or regain lost spots.
Players looking to break into the Indian Test squad usually grind it out in Ranji Trophy or county cricket, but what about limited overs specialists? How about domestic stalwarts without an IPL contract but can provide value overseas? Or consider Kuldeep Yadav’s case, who has been warming the bench for two seasons.
If you rest, you rust.
Rather than wait an entire year for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and IPL, these cricketers could sharpen their skills overseas. They would improve, become financially stable, and help BCCI learn more about them.
2. Retired Players
Yuvraj Singh had to retire from cricket altogether to qualify for a T10 tournament, while Harbhajan Singh and plenty of others were denied altogether in similar cases. Not a proper way to treat legends.
In 2007, Australia’s greatest era was coming to an end with retirements of Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, & Glenn McGrath.
Their acquisition highlighted the early days of the IPL. Hayden was CSK’s mainstay (remember the Mongoose Bat?), Warne inspired Rajasthan Royals’ inaugural win, and Gilchrist did the same with Deccan Chargers in 2009.
Watson exemplifies these points. His Player of the Series performance in IPL 2008 reignited his flailing international career. Post-retirement, Watson regained form in PSL 2019 (Player of the Series), held prior to IPL 2019, which helped CSK in their run to the final.
3. Learn From the West Indies
West Indies just announced a blockbuster summer ahead. 4 Tests, 3 ODIs, and 15 T20Is, right in time for the T20 World Cup. The likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo have returned. Consider this squad for a second:
Chris Gayle, 2. Evil Lewis, 3. Nicholas Pooran, 4. Shimron Hetmyer, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Andre Russell, 7. Jason Holder, 8. Dwayne Bravo, 9. Oshane Thomas, 10. Sheldon Cottrell, 11. Hayden Walsh Jr.
With Lendl Simmons, Andre Fletcher, Fabian Allen, Fidel Edwards, Akeal Hosein, & Obed McCoy on the sidelines and Sunil Narine yet to make his international comeback, this team is ready to complete their World Cup hattrick.
4. Match Practice and Pressure Situations
What is the secret sauce of this Caribbean generation?
In between World Cups, players employ their trade around the various leagues, gain valuable match practice in all conditions, simulate pressure situations, and experience playing with or against world-class opposition.
One can argue that West Indians were born for T20 format, but the same cannot be said about England.
Before 2015, England were adamant against the IPL and T20 leagues, except for Kevin Pietersen. Post the 2015 ODI World Cup debacle, they changed their thinking. The result? Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, and Jofra Archer had stellar seasons, became better limited overs players as a result, and England won the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
Radical change. Rapid strides.
5. The Solution
While injuries and players undervaluing internationals for T20 obligations are genuine concerns, there is a solution—implement a maximum cap of 2-3 leagues per year. This will ensure clarity in communication and provide time to obtain No-objection certificates (NOC), which will help cricketers manage commitments without giving up international dreams.
It does not have to be an all-or-nothing, but frankly the conversation needs to start somewhere.
Safeguarding the IPL brand is hurting India internationally.
IPL helped catapult India to the 2011 Cricket World Cup, but others have caught up. It is time BCCI let their players develop internationally if they have any chance in future T20 World Cups.
While the IPL is in full swing in India, the Pakistan-South Africa series is catching the attention of many.
In the 3rd T20I, Pakistan chased down 204 runs with 9 wickets & 2 overs to spare, courtesy a 197-run partnership from Mohammad Rizwan & Babar Azam, who scored 122 (59). Earlier in the day, news broke that Azam also dethroned Virat Kohli as the #1 ICC ODI batsman after a mammoth 1258 days.
Add Fakhar Zaman’s brilliant 193 in the ODI series, Hafeez’s second coming, & the fast bowling line up, the question should be asked—Is the IPL really the best T20 tournament without Pakistani players?
The Fall of Pakistan Cricket
Pakistan dominated the Indo-Pak cricket rivalry in the 1990s, while India has crushed it in the 2010s. Only in the 2000s, did we have battle of equals.
For India’s tenacious Rahul Dravid, Pakistan had Younis Khan. Similarly, the elegance of Yousuf & Tendulkar, stability of Inzamam & Laxman/Ganguly, & exuberance of Afridi & Sehwag were on par with each other. The destructiveness of Shoaib Akhtar-Asif-Sami on one side matched the abilities of Irfan Pathan-Zaheer Khan-Kumble-Harbhajan on the other.
India narrowly won the 2004 Test series 2-1 & ODI series 3-2 held in Pakistan. Pakistan returned the favor next year with a 1-1 drawn Test series & 4-2 ODI victory held in India. Both memorable events.
Hence, the struggle of Pakistan cricket team over the last decade & lack of competitiveness in recent ICC tournaments has been disheartening. The new generation of Pakistan cricket is slowly making this a battle of equals again.
The New Generation of Pakistan Cricket Rises
Mohammad Rizwan is currently the best T20I batsman in the world (sorry Dawid Malan). Shaheen Shah Afridi can compete with the Rabadas & Bumrahs of the world. The leg spin of Shadab Khan & Usman Qadir with a line up of Afridi-Naseem Shah-Hasan Ali-Haris Rauf can send shivers down the opposition camp.
Babar Azam is the best player in the world. Period.
Each IPL team can benefit from Haider Ali & Faheem Ashraf’s power, experience of Mohammad Hafeez & Shoaib Malik, and the pace of discarded Mohammad Amir & Mohammad Hasnain.
“Imagine Babar-Kohli opening for RCB, Fakhar-Rohit hitting double centuries, & Bumrah-Shaheen bowling together at the death.”
With South African, Sri Lankan, & West Indian foreign contingent in the prime of their careers from 2007-2017, absence of Pakistani players in the IPL made sense.
It no longer does.
South Africa & Sri Lanka’s Eternal Transition Period
Kumar Sangakkara & Mahela Jayawardene once used to captain IPL teams. They are now the only Sri Lankan representation in IPL 2021 (as coaches) as no SL players were picked in the auction. Gone is the era of Malinga-Murali-Dilshan.
With an eternal transition process in South Africa, only Rabada-Nortje (and Ngidi to a certain extent) have risen to the occasion. Otherwise, AB De Villiers & Faf Du Plessis from an earlier generation are still carrying the South Africa baton. Similarly, lots of West Indians in the IPL are from the World Cup winning generation (Gayle, Narine, Pollard, Russell).
The lack of variety in foreign talent is hitting the brand of the IPL. It seems that only India & England are producing new talent year in & year out, with Australia & New Zealand close behind.
It is time for some more talent to flow in—Pakistani talent that is. On the flip side, BCCI’s reluctance to let Indians play abroad should also be reconsidered, but that is a story for another day.
Looking Back to IPL 2008
The inception of the tournament in 2008 is the perfect template to follow.
Rajasthan Royals benefitted from having Pakistan talent in their squad with Kamral Akmal, Younis Khan, & most importantly Sohail Tanvir, the maiden purple cap winner. The Knight Riders enjoyed the pace duo of Shoaib Akhtar & Umar Gul, who took a match-winning 4-fer. KKR also had Salman Butt & the ageless Mohammad Hafeez in their ranks.
Few others participated in the IPL as well—Shahid Afridi (Deccan Chargers), Shoaib Malik & Mohammad Asif (Delhi Daredevils), & Misbah-ul-Haq (Royal Challengers Bangalore).
IPL 2020 Was Ideal But There Is Still Time
IPL 2020 was the best opportunity for adding Pakistani players to the IPL auctions. The world was struggling from a pandemic, and the tournament was taking place at Pakistan’s adopted home ground, the UAE.
What better time to get Pakistan players in? Unfortunately, that did not happen.
There is still time.
Babar is 26, Rizwan 28, & Amir 29. It would be great to watch Mohammad Amir versus Virat Kohli once again, and there is enough love across the border to make it happen.
“Oh I don’t know! Hard to see past Mumbai but what I always love is the match ups. Looking forward to Archer v Warner again and the Indian team battles. Think Stokes will have a better one, Sam Curran may struggle with huge expectations. Hope it stays Covid safe most of all #IPL“