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World T20 meets & West Indies Cricket

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Chris Gayle: "I have served West Indies for many years"

Archiman Bhaduri for CaribDirectIt is that time of the year when, like the winter birds, most of the leading world cricketers fly down to India. Yes, the countdown has begun for the fifth edition of the most popular cricketing event of the world — the Indian Premier League (IPL) which will kick-off in India in the month of April.

The prelude to this year’s tournament began with the great auction show which was held in the city of Bangalore in India on February 3. However, compared to last year, this year’s auction was a small show. In 2011, 10 IPL franchises doled out .8 million among them to buy a total of 83 foreigners and 45 Indian players. Compared to that, a purse of only .94 million was put on the floor to bid for 144 players this time. But the startling fact was that among those 144 players, only seven were Indians which left 136 foreign players vying for 29 spots up for grab.

But there was high drama even before the auction began with the news coming in that one of the franchise – Sahara — holding rights for the Pune Warriors team pulling out of the show due to their differences with the Indian cricket board (BCCI).

India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja fetched the highest bid in the auction, being signed up by Chennai Super Kings for more than m after they beat Deccan Chargers in a secret tie-breaker. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene went to Delhi Daredevils for .4m while India medium-pacer R Vinay Kumar was picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for m.

Chris Gayle I have served West Indies for many years

Chris Gayle: "I have served West Indies for many years" © Associated Press

However, most of the West Indian players on the auction list went unsold. But that was not because they were not good enough but because their availability was doubtful since they have Test series with Australia and England clashing with the IPL season. For the same reason, there were no takers for the English and Australian players too.

The biggest purse for a West Indian player was bagged by relatively low-profile off-spinner Sunil Narine, who was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders for  $700,000.

The other West Indian players to get a bid were Andre Russell $450,000 to Delhi Daredevils (base price $50,000), Darren Bravo $100,000 to Deccan Chargers (base price $100,000) and Kevon Cooper $50,000 to Rajasthan Royals (base price 50,000).

Players like Adrian Barath, Ramnarseh Sarwan, Dwayne Smith, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul from the island nation went unsold.

However, the sensation of last year’s IPL Chris Gayle was retained by Royal Challengers Bangalore for $550,000. The charismatic opener played a sensational role for the side last season and some found it surprising that the West Indian could be retained for such a minor amount after that show.

Gayle, involved in a bitter row with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), is already making waves in different countries taking part in their domestic T20 tournaments. After his Big Bash exploits in Australia, Gayle has also become a popular name in India’s neighbouring country Bangladesh where he is playing for Barisal Burners in the newly-launched Twenty20 Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). In Bangladesh, he bagged a purse of $551,000. Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo were the other Caribbean cricketers to have got contracts in the new Bangladesh enterprise.

As lucrative Twenty20 tournaments continue to multiply (the BPL is the latest) they present a dilemma for both players and, even more so, the game, especially in the West Indies. As many as 12,000 fans turned out to matches at the Sir Viv Richards Ground and Kensington Oval in the recent, unsponsored Caribbean T20; the IPL and Australia’s Big Bash pack in five times that number. So it’s just a no-contest here. No wonder so many West Indies players are looking for greener pastures outside the country.

Gayle, in spite of being ignored for the national side is doing well as a cricketer and making an impact all over the world. In spite of not playing for the country, he perhaps remains the most popular face of West Indies cricket now.

It is thus a challenge for the WICB now to keep all their talented players under their fold and help develop West Indies cricket which during 80s and 90s used to rule world cricket.



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