Put yourselves in the no doubt comfortable shoes of the benefactor of the Pune Warriors, one Subrata Roy. A man so humble he named the stadium he built after himself. Sure, he could have put a roof on the damn thing but he is only one man after all. Imagine that you have just signed off on the purchase of players like Kane Richardson, Ajantha Mendis and Michael Clarke. Not to mention the crafty pre-auction deals that secured the likes of Steven Peter Devereux Smith. Throw into the mix further players such as Luke Wright and Marlon Samuels, and you have essentially overseen the formation of probably the best line-up in this year’s IPL. Sure it didn’t come for cheap, but you don’t achieve success by cutting corners (unless you are Glenn Maxwell that is). You would be feeling pretty good about yourself about now right? IPL glory in the bag and everything? Right?
If Subrata Roy at all believes in securing this year’s IPL title, and after spending all that money he surely can’t be aiming at anything else, he needs to sack Allan Donald right now. In fact he shouldn’t even need to sack him; Donald should have already fallen on his sword. Immediately after Steve Smith received his man of the match award in his first game of the season, after inexplicably being neglected for the first four games, Donald should have walked. Smith’s performance against Chennai was a damning indictment of Pune’s team selection policy to date (that is if they even have a policy) and as the public face of that policy, Donald’s head should have rolled. Just how bad do things have to get till they turn to Luke Wright? We are looking forward to him smashing a double century in his first outing when Pune are already mathematically incapable of reaching the finals.
Perhaps we are being too harsh on Donald. It might be wise to tone down the criticism in any case; he looks like the sort of man who would own several guns. In any event it’s probably not really his fault at all and instead he’s just yet another casualty of the insane logic that pervades the IPL. From what we have seen from the tournament so far, player acquisition and team management seems to be undertaken not only by merely different groups of people, but by entirely different species altogether. Donald and co probably had little say in who Pune picked up in the IPL auction, apart from general suggestions like “let’s not buy that Callum Ferguson chap again eh? He was a bit shit.” When coaching teams fly into the country mere days before the tournament begins, you are going to get debacles like this.
And therein lies the conundrum at the heart of the IPL. The competition deserves being granted an international window by the ICC. It’s clearly the best T20 competition going and if any competition is deserving of that right (a debatable point in itself) it’s the IPL. A window would mean that coaches and players would be able to fly into the country sooner and therefore become better acquainted. Hell, they could even play a few practice matches before the tournament begins to try and iron out a few kinks (by which we mean release all those rubbish third rate Aussies). They could maybe even hold the auction closer to the event itself, giving everyone a chance to liaise beforehand. Which we are sure doesn’t happen at all at the moment. How else do you explain the purchase of Glenn Maxwell?
But to warrant the recognition of an international window, the IPL has to move on from being purely a Indian domestic T20 competition. Why the restriction on only four foreigners per match? Yes it’s more than any other T20 competition allows, but other competitions can’t boast the number of foreign players that the IPL can (Pune alone have 12 of them). Yes, the restriction is in order to assist the development of the Indian T20 outfit, but you cannot possibly argue that raising the restriction from four to five would spell doom for India’s international T20 aspirations quicker than Liam Plunkett reacting to criticism of him on the internet. At the moment IPL fans (yes, we do exist) are being cheated of quality by this artificial restriction. Just think: if it was lifted Pune would never need to field Tirumalasetti Suman ever again! Surely that alone is enough to get the ball rolling at IPL headquarters.
Otherwise it has been another remarkably unremarkable week of IPL action, discounting Devereux’s heroics of course. We are still cleaning up the mess we made after seeing that switch hit six. Rajasthan have emerged as early pace setters, and the Delhi Daredevils have been appallingly shit. Which is hilarious not only because both Virender Sehwag and David Warner play for them, but because they were also the team that Nichael predicted would win this year’s tournament. If they keep this sort of form up (zero wins from six games) we might just jump ship and start supporting them instead. That is if Pune doesn’t do the honorable thing and put Allan Donald out of his misery beforehand.