World Twenty20 success does not guarantee Indian Premier League glory and vice versa

What is more pertinent is not whether IPL experience aids international performance, but how the knowledge gained on that stage services the players when the proper cricket – meaning the IPL – starts, writes Paul Radley.

Lasith Malinga was a star on the Sri Lanka team that won the 2014 World Twenty20 title, but he was the only player from that side to have an impact in the Indian Premier League that season. AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE
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There is no such thing as a sure thing, but India did seem pretty close to it ahead of their home World Twenty20.

Nobody could lay a finger on them at the Asia Cup which preceded it. They had won all but one match so far this year. Virat Kohli was invincible. The bowlers were flying. They were nailed on, surely?

They blew it, though. Or perhaps the West Indies simply beat them to it. Either way, the fact remains the country with the richest and most popular domestic T20 extravaganza have still only won the World T20 once – and that predated the inception of the Indian Premier League (IPL), anyway.

We have spent the past month trying to deduce whether IPL pedigree is essential for global success in cricket’s fastest format.

England reached the final, with minimal IPL experience, so it does not matter a jot, right? But West Indies won it, and all their players are IPL veterans, so obviously it is a necessity. But India wilted under pressure in the semi-final, so it counts for nothing, OK?

Whatever. The World T20 was really just the hoers d’oeuvre before the IPL, anyway.

What is more pertinent is not whether IPL experience aids international performance, but how the knowledge gained on that stage services the players when the proper cricket – meaning the IPL – starts.

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History is a sketchy guide as to whether it does or it does not. In 2009, the first tournament after the IPL’s 2008 debut, Pakistan won the World T20. But that event was played during the English summer, so after that year’s IPL had finished.

The fact England won the world tournament in the Caribbean the following year skews the evidence slightly, too, on account of the fact few English players are ever employed in India.

The leading players have struggled to secure release from the England and Wales Cricket Board, and the franchises treat those who do make it to auction with caution because of their inflated base prices.

That said, though, a few England players did make an impression on the 2010 IPL. Kevin Pietersen, who is now free from international ties, topped the batting averages in the seven matches he played, having been player of the series in the World T20.

Owais Shah was second in the IPL averages, but had not been part of England’s squad in the West Indies. Ravi Bopara and Michael Lumb, two world champions with England, did play in that IPL, but to middling effect.

Kolkata Knight Riders have won the IPL that immediately followed the past two World T20s.

In 2012, their advance to the title was founded on the unplayability of Sunil Narine with the ball.

The mystery spinner, who has since been disarmed after his bowling action was found to be illegal, took three for nine in the World T20 final West Indies won by 36 runs against Sri Lanka. Then he took 24 wickets, with an economy rate of 5.47, in 15 games for his IPL franchise.

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Chris Gayle enjoyed a fine campaign, too. His tally at the top of the runscorers was around 150 more than the next best, even though he played two games less than Gautam Gambhir, who was second in the charts.

Then two years ago, Sri Lanka beat India to win the world event, but the footprint of their players on the 2014 IPL was minimal bar the usual excellence of Lasith Malinga.

So will the star of this year’s competition be West Indian? It is not exactly guaranteed. Darren Sammy and Marlon Samuels, captain and man of the match in the World T20 final, respectively, both went unsold at auction.

And if the likes of Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and Lendl Simmons excel, it is difficult to suggest that was as a direct result of their recent experience on the global stage. Each play more franchise, T20 cricket than they do internationally, anyway.

One perennially underachieving franchise are hoping they have got the jewel in the crown of the world champion side, though.

Carlos Brathwaite was recruited for the equivalent of Dh2.3million by Delhi Daredevils at auction. They were obviously already in on the secret of the player who has already been the ultimate cricket hero once this month.

pradley@thenational.ae

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