Indian Premier League & the changing face of cricket

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In the last ten years the game of cricket has evolved beyond belief and much quicker than in the history of the game. This is partly if not solely down to the Indian Premier League beginning in 2007.

This competition showed the quality of players from all over the wold but also exposing them to the eyes of the world rather than being restricted to their own countries for majority of their careers as it was at that point. It also gave the players taking part in the competiton an idea of the money they could earn in this format while exciting the viewers watching at home about how the game could be played.

From that very first innings where New Zealander Brendon McCullum smashed an unbeaten 158 not out for the Kolkatam Knight Riders the competition had exploded into the consciousness of cricket fans around the world. McCullum was the first of a generation of cricketers to have their reputations and abilities enhanced by the Twenty20 format. Since the inseption of the IPL we have seen global superstars like Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, AB De Villiars, David Warner to name a few. The generation of cricketers to come into the game in all levels have helped show the differences that T20 and the formats exposure has made on the way that players now approach the game.

Players are now looking at being stronger, fitter, faster and more adaptable. Switch hits and all the variations both batsmen and bowlers come up with nowadays shows how far the game has moved on.

Competitons have also moved forward thanks to the IPL. The Big Bash, Caribbean/Bangladesh/Pakistan Premier Leagues have all took the franchise based approach that the IPL lead with and have all had great success because of this. Even in England it has been confirmed that a new T20 franchise competition will be put in place alongside the T20 Blast.

The IPL has been the main point in recent history to give cricket the kick start it really needed to move forward and progress. In England you could say that the 2005 Ashes series really got peoples attention back in the sport but the quality of players and developments that have come in the game since really pull back to the Indian based competition.

Prior to the first tournament to see a team score in excess of 6 runs an over would be a rare sight, however now it is the opposite way around. For batsmen the importance of the fielding restrictions is seen now with players not taking an over or two to get their eye in, the quality is there for everyone to see and they look to go after the attack from ball one. The standard of equipment as well improves year after year which does help the batsmen clear the ropes. The progress in batting equipment standard has also helped the bowling standard across the world improve and variations players come up with like I mentioned briefly previously are common place now too. Slower ball bouncers and wide yorkers are just a couple of variations which wouldn't have ever been thought of back in the first few years of Twenty20 cricket.

We have seen how much the game has moved forward since the inception of the IPL. In 2007 cricket players were vastly underpaid for their skill level and amount of time that goes into making it at the professional level. We see this as the biggest example being Ben Stokes who has just been bought for £1.7million by Rising Pune Supergiants for what is a record for a foreign player.

With the competition due to begin in a few weeks all eyes will again be on India as the best players from around the world descend to contest what is viewed as the premier non-international competition in the world. This year sees the largest number of English participants taken up by teams, with the previously mentioned Stokes on Punes' books, Sam Billings and Jos Butler both retained by their franchises prior to the auction (Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians respectively). There is England white ball opener Jason Roy (Gugurat Lions), Englands limited overs captain Eoin Morgan, all-rounder Chris Woakes (Kalkota Knight Riders), limited overs specialist Tymal Mills (Royal Challengers Bangalore) as well as bowling all-rounder Chris Jordan (Sunrisers Hyderabad).

The level of competitors is so high for this year it couldn't be closer, my pick is between Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore for the potential winners of the competition. 


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