IPL – the tonic that SA needs


That’s what the Indian Premier League (IPL) feels like this year. Drunk on the lengthy World Cup, then hungover after it’s conclusion, along comes the eighth season of the IPL, to, well, you know, examine your capacity for cricket intake, or just get you over the World Cup hangover.

There are 17 South African players participating across the eight teams – 10 of whom played in the World Cup. Nine of those were involved in the most memorable match of the tournament, and the 10th should have played.

It was a piece of botched selection that kept Kyle Abbott out of that semi-final at Eden Park, an error akin to the |non-selection of Allan Donald for the quarter-final in the 1996 tournament when Brian Lara made a fine century and South Africa were eliminated on |that occasion.

For Abbott and the other nine members of the South African World Cup squad the process of returning to a sort of cricket normalcy starts with the IPL. At six weeks it’s almost as long as the World Cup. There are more matches – 60 compared to 49 for the 50-over spectacle – and an Indian TV audience for whom this event is easily more popular than the World Cup.

It is in the IPL that South Africa’s World Cup 10 must start to rekindle their affection for the game once more. They were deeply pained by the outcome of that extraordinary semi-final, and they need to move on from that.

They would not have wanted to look at a cricket bat or ball, stumps, pads and gloves after Auckland, but the reality of their profession demands otherwise.

The IPL may be the best place to start healing those wounds. It exists in it’s own bubble and the requirements for the players differ vastly from what they encounter on the international stage. AB de Villiers is well remunerated by the Bangalore Royal Challengers, but there is enormous pressure on that franchise to prove that the glitz and glamour that surrounds them isn’t what defines them. De Villiers, along with skipper Virat Kohli, is expected to spearhead the, um, challenge, for Bangalore this year.

JP Duminy is captaining the under-performing Delhi Daredevils, Morné Morkel is the senior bowler for the defending champions, the Knight Riders, and Dale Steyn leads the Sunrisers’ attack. They can’t continue feeling sorry for themselves after the World Cup disappointment. They can’t afford to.

The IPL may seem like overkill, but the ‘hair of the dog’ that it appears to be after the World Cup, may be just the tonic for South Africa’s players.

Original source: IPL - the tonic that SA needs