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In cricket, it is always intriguing to wonder how a player from a past era would have fared in the current game, on the present wickets and against the current teams. The advent of Twenty20 cricket has made that thought even more interesting – which cricketer from a former team would have succeeded in this format?
According to former Australian captain, Mark Taylor, the man from his team who would have been a hit in the IPL is Mark Waugh. Taylor, who had his first IPL experience when he was in Bengaluru for the Final of Pepsi IPL 2014, was awestruck by the atmosphere in the tournament. In a chat with IPLT20.com, Taylor spoke about the Australian domination in the IPL and the effect the T20 format has had over cricket.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
How was your first IPL experience?
I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly. The home team is not even playing here and there’s still a full house and the people are enjoying themselves so much. The Australians have done well; they really like playing in the IPL, and now I can see why.
Did you follow the first season of IPL when Shane Warne led Rajasthan Royals to a fairytale victory?
I followed it then, than I do now. Being in Australia, I don’t see much of the tournament, but because so many Australians play in it, I do keep a loose eye on it. It was great to see what Warnie did in 2008 and I think it sort of paved the way for the Australians who play in the tournament now.
How does it feel to see the Australians dominating the tournament?
I like to believe that our players are really good. They love coming here to play in the IPL and the important thing is that the franchises are willing to pick them. The IPL happens just after the Australian season and so it fits in very well with the schedule and the players come here in form. It’s obviously a good chance to make some money as well. It is also an excellent opportunity for players to be involved in cricket after their international career ends.
Who from your team would have succeeded in the IPL?
Unfortunately, not me! I would have loved to play this format, but I think I would have been terrible at it. But someone like Mark Waugh would have fared very well. In this format, you’ve got to be able to bat but also improvise, and I think Mark would have done that really well.
Do you think this format has made batting more innovative?
There’s no doubt that the T20 format has invented many new ways of scoring runs. And I think even today, it is predominantly a young man’s game. It can be difficult for a senior player who has been brought up with Test cricket. If you’re a good enough player, you will adapt, but overall it is a young man’s game. Guys walk in to bat and hit the first ball for a six. I never even dreamed of doing that during my playing days.
How about the standard of fielding?
The athleticism has improved a lot, but I am not so sure about the close-in catching. That is the only aspect of cricket that has suffered after the advent of the T20 format. There aren’t as many slip specialists as there used to be. But the overall standard of fielding has definitely gone up.
Not many England cricketers, past or present, have had a first-hand experience of the Indian Premier League, owing to the clash in England’s cricket season with the IPL. Many England players have come out and expressed their wish for the ECB to create a window that enables them to partake in the biggest T20 league in the world.
The latest to join that chorus is former England captain, Andrew Strauss. In India as part of the ICC Cricket Committee, Strauss had his first IPL experience when he was in Bengaluru to watch the Pepsi IPL 2014 Final, between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders. What he saw and felt blew his mind away.
“It is my first IPL experience and it’s incredibly exciting to be here and to sample the atmosphere. It’s like nothing else; it really is fantastic,” Strauss told IPLT20.com.
“I think the IPL is a brilliant thing to have happened to cricket. You look at the calibre of the players who are playing here and it is really taking the game of cricket forward.
“It’s really difficult to say anything negative about this tournament. It’s been a fantastic addition to the game. To sample it in the flesh is the best way to figure out how good it is,” Strauss said.
Besides Kevin Pietersen, not many England players have been regulars in the IPL since the first season, given their international commitments during that time of the year. While Strauss admits finding the balance is “tricky”, he hopes that ECB can figure out a way to create an IPL window for its players.
“It’s a bit tricky with the English season clashing with the IPL,” he said. “But I think it would be great if players from England could participate as it would benefit them a lot.
“It would also be good for the tournament. But obviously, the ECB don’t want to tinker with their schedule. It’s a question of achieving the right balance, which hopefully will be done at some point.”