By Matthew Harris
The Indian Premier League is now in its tenth edition: not a bad achievement for a format of the sport which is still viewed with disdain by many cricketing purists. Like it, or dismiss it as pyjama cricket with overpaid players milking the system when they should be wearing three sweaters at Derby, the IPL is now an established fixture that the best players will work everything else around.
Over the previous nine years, we’ve seen some of the world’s greatest cricketers head to India for two months of toil while others, didn’t leave quite such an indelible mark.
As someone who topped the World T20 batsmen rankings and who holds England’s individual highest score in both Twenty20 and ODI formats, you’d suspect that Alex Hales would have been handed an IPL gig by this stage in his career.
The Notts Outlaw did, in fact, get called up in 2015 by Mumbai to replace the injured Corey Anderson but was left in the dugout as his side progressed to the final. Hales was overlooked again at the auction for IPL 10 but that could have been attributed to a broken hand sustained at the end of 2016. After a successful return to the England set up against the West Indies, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see a franchise come calling as soon as injury hits a registered player for 2017.
Hales’ stint as drinks waiter lasted just three games while Tamim Iqbal, an equally explosive batter for Bangladesh, spent the whole of IPLs 5 and 6 on the sidelines for Pune Warriors. Purchased in 2012 and 2013, Tamim didn’t feature, even for a franchise that was considered to be the weakest across their brief stay at the IPL.
It’s a case almost as curious as that of Hales and at the age of 28, the opener became the first Bangladeshi to score 10,000 runs across all formats so perhaps there is still time to make his debut in the biggest T20 tournament of all.
Unless you’re Virat Kohli, individual IPL hundreds are rare beasts with only 42 tons scored in the previous nine editions of the competition. Indian Premier League aficionados will know that Brendon McCullum scored the first century in the very first IPL match for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore while Kohli, AB De Villiers, Suresh Raina, Chris Gayle and Virender Sehwag are among the list of world class names to have passed the three figure mark.
Even the most studious of fans might, however, struggle to remember the man who delivered the top score of IPL4. Kings XI Punjab’s Paul Valthaty played just 25 T20 games in his entire career, the undoubted highpoint of which came in 2011 when he took 120 from just 63 balls against Chennai.
If you have just a passing interest in the IPL then you may have heard of Ajit Chandila for all the wrong reasons. Arrested on suspicion of spot fixing in 2013, the Rajasthan Royals off spinner was subsequently given a life ban from the game three years later.
At IPL5 in 2012, Chandila was hitting the headlines in a more positive way as he took the only hat trick of the season, becoming the ninth player in the history of the competition to record such a feat. It was the only highlight of a modest IPL career as he left Rajasthan with 12 wickets across two otherwise forgettable campaigns.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla
By the time Laxmi Shukla appeared at the first version of the IPL, he was only 26 but his best years were already behind him. Called up to India’s ODI squad as a 17 year old, he played three games for the national side but scored just 18 runs and took one wicket.
His Indian Premier League career was significantly longer but no less memorable and despite being on the books of three franchises between 2008 and 2015, he produced modest figures as a listed all rounder. These days, ‘Bittu’ is enjoying an interesting change of career and hopes to be more effective as India’s Minister for State Sports and Youth Services.
With genuine pace and an unusual action, Sohail Tanvir has been a valuable player for T20 franchises across the world and at the IPL, he holds two distinct records. He was the first winner of the Purple Cap back in 2008 as, despite featuring in only 11 of Rajasthan Royals’ 16 games, he finished as leading wicket taker with 22 scalps at just 12.09.
Along the way, he returned tournament-best figures of 6/14 against Chennai but players from Pakistan haven’t appeared at the IPL since 2009 so Tanvir has yet to return to improve on that record.
In 2017, big bucks are paid for the best exponents of T20 cricket but in the early days of the IPL it wasn’t always so difficult to get a gig. With the greatest respect to Lee Carseldine, his record in this format is unlikely to attract a current franchise but in 2009, the then 33 year old played five games for the Royals, scoring 81 runs while taking one wicket.
His modest career in the sporting arena wasn’t aided by chronic back complaints that had initially forced him into retirement in 2004. As comebacks go, this one isn’t quite in the Tymal Mills class and today, Carseldine is better known as a Media Personality – a career that saw him appear in Season 3 of Australian survivor.
It’s interesting that Rajasthan Royals are linked with so many of these players and in 2009 they took a punt on 35 year old Shane Harwood, who had just played the last of his three T20 Internationals for Australia.
His IPL career started in some style, as he took the wicket of Deccan’s Azhar Bilakhia with his very first ball but after three games, he’d added just two more scalps before drifting away to become another footnote.
You would need specialist IPL knowledge to identify the Man of the Match in 2012’s final with Manvinder Bisla guiding his KKR side home with 89 from just 48 balls. As they looked to chase down Chennai’s respectable 190, Bisla saw his opening partner Gautam Gambhir, depart for just three but by the time his own innings came to an end, he had put on 136 with Jaques Kallis and the game had swung.
By now you will have guessed what comes next – very little. In his first five IPL matches in 2013, Bisla made scores of 4, 1, 1, 28 and 0 before losing his place in the side to Debabrata Das. Retained for 2014 and released a year later, Bisla appeared twice for RCB in 2015 but hasn’t featured at the IPL since.
South African international Thomas played just one T20 international in his entire career and that may surprise fans of Somerset in particular, where he became known as one of the most effective death bowlers in World cricket.
Perhaps equally surprisingly is his IPL record where he played just one season for Pune, despite being at the height of his power when the tournament began in 2008. Three years later, his 2011 campaign for the Warriors produced 11 wickets in 11 matches and while he was retained a year later, he played just four more games and never returned to the IPL as a player again.
Matt Harris previews IPL cricket for betting.betfair.com and is Head of Content at 90Digital.