It was something that surprised the cricket fans, but not the men who matter, including some of the former Sri Lankan players like Arjuna Ranatunga and Sanath Jayasuriya. While players from countries like Australia, South Africa and New Zealand attracted handsome bids in the IPL 2014 Player Auctions, their Sri Lankan counterparts did not have a similar slice of the cake. The only current player who was bought was Thisara Perera, by the Kings XI Punjab for INR 1.6 Crore. Muralitharan, from among the retired players, was acquired by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, while Lasith Malinga was retained by the Mumbai Indians.
Availability of Players
This was a big concern. Kumar Sangakkara had already opted out of the tournament in view of the upcoming England tour, saying that he wanted to prepare and be in the right mould for the fixtures lined up. This cast a cloud of doubt on whether the other players would be available and willing to contribute their best to the franchises. The way it stands, they would have to leave the IPL midway, as the England tour starts in May. This could be a reason for Mahela Jayawardene not getting any buyers, too.
The players like Angelo Mathews and Nuwan Kulasekara among other names may not have been in the consideration list for the same reason. If chosen, these players would have taken important roles in the line-up, and it would greatly affect the team combination and rhythm when they would leave for England halfway, which explains the reluctance on the part of the franchisees to go after them.
Muralitharan and Malinga, on the other hand, have retired. Perera, who last played a Test for Sri Lanka in 2012, is not someone who can make the Test squad. Therefore, it is only normal that these players got picked.
The ICC Revamp
There are many who feel that this could have had a say in deciding the fate of Sri Lankans at the IPL auction. The Sri Lankan and the Pakistani cricket boards did not support the ICC revamp regulations, which gave extra powers to the cricket boards of England, India and Australia.
Former Sri Lankan and Mumbai Indians opener Sanath Jayasuriya had this to say, “Had we supported India from the outset, we could have gained several benefits, but right now we have to do lot of damage control.”
He added, “India has promised Bangladesh several tours in the next few years, while South Africa may be hosting several IPL matches this season. Instead of not supporting India, we could have gone for an amicable solution.”
India is clearly a dominant force in world cricket today. How much of a say it can have on world cricket affairs is something which has to be decided, and it is clearly not good if some countries alone control everything. Still, the IPL is something that comes under the purview of India, and it can choose who all play in it. Only thing to worry is that the deserving players are not given a chance for no fault of their own.
Most of the Sri Lankan players don’t have an excellent IPL record to speak of. Sangakkara and Jayawardene have not been at their very best, neither was Jayasuriya who failed many a time after showing some fire initially. Dilshan had a good time with the bat in 2009, but was otherwise largely mediocre. Muralitharan had a great 2012 and 2010; but, apart from that, he does not have much to boast about. As regards with other bowlers, not many have previously featured in the IPL.
Even though they have had a good run as a T20 side, they currently don’t have widely recognised T20 specialists, except for Perera and Dilshan. They have not focused on developing a pool of players for the shorter format; something that Australia have done, or something that has come naturally for India or Pakistan, which are cricket crazy nations with a magnificent pool of all kinds of cricketers.
This is something that they can work on. Even Bangladesh would be looking to direct their efforts in developing such a pool so that more players from their country can feature in this lucrative league. Right now, only Shakib Al Hasan makes it to the tournament, which is understandable as he is one of the best all-rounders of current times.