The Indian Premier League kicked off this weekend with much ceremony, fanfare, and a fair bit of cricket too. McCullum’s century to opening the tournament will surely not be beaten, and Hussey, Michael, adding a 2nd century in the opening weekend gets it off to a great start. While some having been voicing concerns about the affect and influence that the IPL will have on world cricket as a whole, it is fair to say that what has been seen on the pitches thus far has not harmed the game at all.
While people have been worried that the money involved in the IPL and the structure, with the auction for players to teams, teams made up a core of international players and filled by young Indian talent, would turn players into mercenaries, going where the money takes them, with no loyalty and patriotism, although only at its beginning, these fears appear to be ill found.
International players are using this forum to showcase themselves away from their national teams. Reputations are being tested and the idea that these athletes are showing up just to collect some money while they can is naive. Watching the games it is clear to see how much each individual and each time wants to win, they are in it to win, and the pain of defeat is all too obvious.
What is more so, following on from the Australia/India series, where so much damaged was done to cricket, it is of particular highlight to notice the camaraderie, and fellowship that is being forged by so many from different countries, cultures and backgrounds. The ill effects of the Australia/India series are being redressed and new friendships formed.
Players are testing themselves in ways that they can not at international level. In yesterdays game between the Mumbai Indians and Bangalore Royal Challengers there was an over when Shaun Pollock was bowling to Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher. Boucher and Kallis would have stood behind the wicket, at keeper and slip, to Pollock on many occasions throughout their careers and would have faced him in domestic games, but not under these circumstances, in front of as big a crowd, and with the whole world watching.
For the South Africans that game was a good show case of where they are in world cricket. Pollock showed South Africa that he is still capable of being a world beater with a brilliant knock of 28 from just 12 balls, finding the middle of the bat and the boundaries from just about the first ball faced, and then an economical spell of bowling that will surely go down as “doing a Pollock” in years to come.
On the other side Kallis did a job rebuilding the innings with Boucher and getting their team within reach of the win, while Boucher played an innings, 39 not out from 19 balls, which just about won the game for Bangalore.
IPL is off to a great start and promises to be an entertaining, quality driven, feast for all.
(Pic from http://www.cricinfo.com)