• IPL 2015: It’s showtime

    The glitz and glamour of the IPL is back, and will feature a clutch of talented South Africans. By Kobus Pretorius.

    The World Cup hangover hasn’t lasted long. Those players who were at the event, won by Australia, are are now heading to India don’t have long to recover from the euphoria of the biggest cricket tournament in the world, because the 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL) begins this week.

    The IPL, which has changed cricket forever and ensured that its top players are now multi-millionaires, starts with a clash between the defending champions, the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and the Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens on 8 April. It ends with the final on 24 May at Eden Gardens after 47 days and 60 matches. The IPL is sure to make the World Cup look dull in comparison, with its lights, sounds, full stadiums and cheerleaders all adding to the glitz and glamour of one of the most popular cricket tournaments around.

    It will be the first time in five years that KKR start their campaign without South Africa’s legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis among their playing ranks. Kallis has been appointed as a mentor and batting consultant to the team for the 2015 season. He helped KKR win the IPL in 2012 and 2014, while they finished last year’s Champions League T20 as runners-up.

    The IPL auction for this year’s tournament had it’s fair share of surprises when it took place on 16 February. There were 349 players up for sale; 67 were sold, of which 43 were Indians, while 24 were from overseas.

    Yuvraj Singh broke his own record bid for the second consecutive year when the Delhi Daredevils picked him up for approximately R31-million, beating the R27-million the Royal Challengers paid for him last year.

    Fellow Indian Dinesh Karthik fetched approximately R20.3-million to play for the Royal Challengers, while the Daredevils also signed Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews for R14.5-million.

    South African players like Hashim Amla and Wayne Parnell will have a good rest after the World Cup, since they weren’t sold at the auction, while the likes of AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller and Morne Morkel were retained by their respective teams.

    Amla’s snub raised some eyebrows, since he has been one of the world’s best batsmen over the past few years and has a very impressive record in the shorter formats of the game.

    The three surprise buys at the auction were those of David Wiese, Chris Morris and Rusty Theron. Morris was bought by the Rajasthan Royals for R2.6-million after he played for the Chennai Super Kings in 2014, while Wiese got picked up for a whopping R5.4-million by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, where he will join fellow South Africans AB de Villiers and Rilee Rossouw, as well as Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and Darren Sammy.

    Sammy and Wiese were teammates during the Ram Slam T20 series, and Wiese told SACricketmag.com that he didn’t know if Sammy played a role in him getting signed by the Challengers.

    ‘To be honest, I don’t know how much influence Darren had on me signing with Bangalore. He was with the Hyderabad Sunrisers last year, but went back on auction. I’m pretty sure AB and even Allan [Donald, Proteas bowling coach], who are on the Bangalore paying and coaching staff, probably had more influence on the decision than Darren,’ said the 29-year-old.

    ‘I had been available in previous IPL auctions, but I was never picked up. For me this is all still quite a shock. What’s happening is all a bit unbelievable, but it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work. All those hours put in there, trying to get this, it has paid off.

    ‘It took me a while to figure out what sort of numbers were going on, and the amount I had sold for, but then my agent helped me understand the magnitude of the contract.’

    The huge amounts of money that players can earn at the IPL has certainly been a game-changer in terms of maximising their earnings. Rugby players in South Africa earn millions by taking up lucrative contracts overseas, whether it’s in Japan, France or England. Provincial cricket players don’t have that same option, and, before the IPL started back in 2008, the result was that few, if any, could secure their financial futures.

    However, the IPL has changed all that. Players picked up at the auction can now maximise their earnings for just six weeks worth of cricket.