From The Stands
Why IPL is still the best platform for tomorrow's cricket stars
Even if an unknown player such as Sarfaraz Khan clicks in one match, his performance is noticed globally by the people who matter.
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The Indian Premier League (IPL) is globally known for its big bucks and for recognising and patronising talent – not necessarily in that order, though. And although Monday’s IPL auction was comparatively small — only 67 players were sold out of 349 — it has its own significance for upcoming talented youngsters who have been picked by the franchises.
Players like 17-year-old Mumbai batting prodigy Sarfaraz Khan, the youngest to be picked at the auction, by the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), little known Karnataka leg-spinner KC Cariappa, who was bought by the Kolkata Knight Riders, and talented Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer, purchased by the Delhi Daredevils, now have a world of opportunities ahead of them.
Iyer, 20, who made his Ranji Trophy debut this season and has smashed two centuries and four half-centuries in eight matches, has been picked for Rs two point six zero crore, the five-foot-eleven Cariappa, who has been catapulted into global fame overnight, got a price of Rs two point four zero crore — 24 times of his base price — and Sarfaraz, who has broken almost all school-level batting records in Mumbai, was bought for Rs 50 lakh.
However, at this stage of their promising cricket careers, money is not the primary consideration for these, and other, talented players who have caught the eyes of the eight IPL franchisees. The primary target for them is to perform well, if given an opportunity in the eighth edition of the tournament, to be played from April 9 to May 24, and climb the ladder of success.
“It feels good to be picked. I shall perform, if given a chance, In-Shaa-Allah,” Sarfaraz, who also made his Ranji Trophy this season, told Mail Today.
“Among my favourite players in the RCB are Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. I’d get to learn a lot from them while being the team,” said the shy boy, whose younger brother and talented leg-spinner Musheer is another prodigy who has caught the eyes of the Mumbai selectors. There are several age-group tournaments that the BCCI organises — for under-16, under-19 and under-23 players — and then there are many competitions for seniors in all three formats, including Twenty20.
But the IPL is hugely different from the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament that the BCCI organises. Hardly anyone — barring talent scouts of the IPL franchises — takes notice of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, and it is not given much importance by broadcasters too.
On the other hand, the reach of the IPL is mind boggling — it is beamed to around 200 countries. So, even if an unknown player clicks in one match, his performance is noticed globally by the people who matter. And this has happened many times in the seven IPL tournaments, propelling players from complete obscurity to sudden stardom.
Also, the IPL often helps youngsters take the IPL route to get into their states’ team, play first-class cricket, and then go on to represent the country. Cariappa is a case in point. He had only represented Bijapur Bullswas in the T20 Karnataka Premier League and hardly anyone had heard his name until he was grabbed by the RCB.
The other advantage for talented youngsters is to share the dressing room and have practice sessions with seasoned pros, besides travelling with them and talking to them to remove doubts and improve their game, even if they don’t at once get the chance to play.
Naushad Khan, father-cum-coach of Sarfaraz, summed it up: "Now, Sarfaraz will get a chance to be with the seasoned players, both on and off the field. He’ll get to learn how to encash opportunities, how to play under pressure, how to play in the short format of the game, though he has played many matches in this short format and has also performed."