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IPL 2024 – The story so far and the controversy…

This year’s edition of the most prestigious franchise cricket tournament in the world has provided viewers with immense entertainment as the league stage passes the halfway mark.

Without a doubt the most impressive side thus far has been the Rajasthan Royals. The balance of the side has been impeccable. Jos Buttler, their swashbuckling overseas star and England white-ball captain, has started firing with two hundreds against Kolkata and Bengaluru having started slowly in the tournament. His opening counterpart Yashasvi Jaiswal also had a slow start to the tournament, but a ton in his last game against Mumbai will have settled any doubt that he is one of the best young talents in world cricket. They sit top of the table with only one loss in eight games and they have completed the joint highest chase in IPL history against KKR, chasing 224/8. This matches the score that Rajasthan chased in 2020 against Punjab.

Kolkata have also been very impressive this season. Sunil Narine opening the batting has been a masterstroke. He has added a lot of runs very quickly at the top of the order, as well as taking 9 wickets. The leadership of Shreyas Iyer has been pivotal for the men in purple and gold, leading them to five wins in seven matches. England’s own Phil Salt has been in excellent touch after a string of good knocks at the start of the tournament.

This year has seen some of the highest ever scores in T20 cricket. Sunrisers Hyderabad have posted 287/3, 277/3 and 266/7. Travis Head has been in superb form, scoring 102 off 41 balls. Their match against RCB produced the most runs in any T20 match anywhere in the world. Punjab made history by chasing the highest total ever in a T20 completing the task of 262/3 with still eight balls to spare. Jonny Bairstow blasted 108 off 48 balls. The pitches have appeared incredibly flat and easy to bat on. Being a bowler in the IPL this year has not been rewarding in the slightest!

As the season progresses, only four teams will qualify for the knockouts. At this point, it looks like Rajasthan and Kolkata are far superior to their counterparts. Rajasthan’s spin attack is deadly, led by Ravi Ashwin and Yuzi Chahal. The Chennai Super Kings have a history of qualifying for the knockouts, going through 12 times out of 14, so MS Dhoni will fancy their chances.

One point of interest is the current failure of five-time champions Mumbai Indians. They sit eighth in the table with only three wins from eight games. Their bowling has let them down on multiple occasions. Rohit Sharma will be eager to showcase some quality in the latter stages of the tournament.

I would say that anything can happen in the IPL, but Rajasthan look like the team to beat, and they are the clear favourites to lift the trophy on the 26th May.

There is a lot of controversy in the cricketing world surrounding not only the IPL, but all the franchise league around the world. The players that play in these competitions are paid a huge amount of money. Mitchell Starc is the IPL’s highest earner, and he is set to take home $3 million. This is an insane amount of money to be paid for a eight-week tournament, and this is why some international cricketers will choose the IPL over playing for their country. This is a real shame, and it is contributing to the slow and painful demise of test cricket, the oldest and best form of the game.

One can appreciate how competitions such as the IPL and the Hundred format in the UK can generate millions as well as inspire kids to fall in love with the sport, but test match cricket seems only sustainable to those nations who can afford it. The big three, (England, India and Australia) are the only countries to make money from playing the games longest format. Every other country runs at a loss. New Zealand, a fantastic and inspiring cricketing nation have simply not played enough test cricket in the last three years. I can appreciate the excitement and appeal to the IPL, and I love watching it, but it would be a dreadful shame to see cricket’s purest form collapse.

The T20 world cup starts on the 2nd June so selectors for most countries will be keeping an eye out for standout performers. England’s stars have impressed and will go into the tournament as one of the favourites. However, their dismal ODI world cup campaign last year will loom over, and they’ll be eager to hold onto their title. Jos Buttler’s men will be challenged as the world cup is held Unites States for the first time. India will be strong contenders as always, and the form of Australians such as Travis Head and Pat Cummins will strike fear into their opposition.

In conclusion, the success of the IPL in terms on revenue is no secret, and it is an entertaining spectacle. However, it is a major distraction away from international cricket, which should be a professional’s priority.

Written by Ned Howard-Wyse


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