New Delhi, April 1: Is the Indian Premier League (IPL) a home for the aged or a pre-school for those hoping to play international cricket some day? The truth lies somewhere between the two perceptions.
Players like Adam Gilchrist, Scott Styris, Mathew Hayden, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Shane Warne, all retired from international cricket but chose to keep a lean on quick-bucks T20 league.
What is it that pulls these veterans to play a format which has since its inception been proclaimed to be the young man's game? Is it the money?
Lucrative contract for a year or two does sound appealing. Fewer overs to bat, bowl and field and with the tournament taking place once a year and for a period of 45 days. They hit pay dirt!
So is it then that the IPL is what Major League Soccer (MLS) is to a European footballer? A place to make your last quick buck before the sun sets on the career?
This is where all the IPL positives come in. The older players, who now can't make the cut at the international level, have a chance to do their last hurrah. Joining them are teens and brash young men eager to rub shoulders with them, sharing the dressing room.
Four international stars current and yore in each team juxtaposed with Indian internationals and the budding domestic talent - what else can one ask for? The young brigade is eager to imbibe as much as they can from the old guard who have done it all at the highest level.
For the cricket-crazy Indians, the fare is mouthwatering. Where else could they see some of the big names of the game either competing together or facing off?
The league, to its credit, has given the world quite a few stars or at least short-listed them for the future.
Players like Shane Watson, Dirk Nannes, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Kevon Cooper, Steven Smith, Shaun Marsh have all done well in the IPL and then made a mark at the international level.
There are many others who have shown promise but fell by the wayside swayed by the bright lights, dimmed by the parties, left wonderstruck by the cheerleaders, the money and the rockstar lifestyle.
Manish Pandey, Saurabh Tiwary, Rahul Sharma, Manpreet Gony, Yusuf Pathan all shot up like meteors but came crashing. They all still can steady themselves and rise again to expected heights. The game is a great leveller!