For the longest time in Indian cricket, the pathway system had been on a singular plane where one impressive performance in the U19 World Cup would line you up for a senior debut. However, with the addition of the Indian Premier League, the pathway system has undergone a massive metamorphosis.
From the tale of Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif, who played for the Indian cricket team after impressive performances in the U-19 World Cup, to the likes of KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah using the IPL stage to show their charisma, it has been quite a journey. This IPL has ensured the pattern is even more prominent with the young cricketers impressing with their majestic performances on a regular basis.
From Shubman Gill becoming the mainstay in the KKR line-up to Devdutt Padikkal and Ravi Bishnoi’s heroics to Kartik Tyagi doing amazing stuff with the ball to Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti bowling solid overs in tandem, you could find the sense of a new Indian team emerging in the current IPL. Monty Panesar is extremely pleased with the impact that the IPL has created and how the consistent in-flow of ideas made the tournament a massive success.
“The most impressive thing that we’ve seen is the U19 cricketers come through on the IPL platform and actually flourish, taking on the challenge,” Panesar told SportsCafe in an exclusive interview. “As the likes of the young leggie who bowls that leg spin, Bishnoi, for Punjab Kings XI. Strategically, you know, they’ve obviously put him into that cadre with Anil Kumble to flourish. The likes of Shreyas Iyer, who is Delhi Capitals captain ― you know, Ricky Ponting is mentoring him, doing a beautiful job.
“I just think the BCCI have got it spot on when it comes to the development of young U19, young Ranji Trophy players in the IPL. Every team right now has one youngster that is doing well, you know. And I look at the Natwest T20 Blast, and I look elsewhere, I haven’t seen youngsters develop so quickly like they do so in the IPL.”
Panesar, who played only against Sourav Ganguly and managed to dismiss him in 2007, heaped praise on the former Indian skipper, who is currently serving as the BCCI President, for creating a pathway that is self-sufficient in its own way. Panesar is of the opinion that Ganguly, who, he called “gold dust” for the BCCI, knows exactly how to extract the best out of a young player and create a system that is good for the future of Indian cricket.
“I think the appointment of Saurav Ganguly has been brilliant because, I’m a big believer of appointing ex cricketers into administration roles because then you see the benefit ― the true benefit ― of the game run in the best way. And, Ganguly is gold dust for BCCI, you know. He exactly knows how to develop a young cricketer, creates a pathway ― like, strategically place certain cricketers with certain coaches ― and, you know, it’s proving absolutely spot on. And I think this is because you appointed Sourav Ganguly as the president. But strategically, the decisions that he’s put in place… now, I think the IPL and the BCCI are seeing the fruits of.”
The biggest talking point in the ongoing IPL has to be Chennai Super Kings, whose biggest fear came true with the ageing squad failing to replicate the performance of the past. The trap was so big that it led to multiple panic decisions by the franchise - a never-seen-before trait for the MS Dhoni-led side. Amidst the gloom, however, the biggest positive for the side came in the form of Sam Curran who impressed both with the bat and ball while adapting himself as a floater. Panesar believes the IPL has allowed that sense of character and attitude among the young cricketers and the younger Curran is one among the lot.
“For certain players, the IPL gets the best out of them. And definitely, for Sam Curran, it has. But Curran, it’s his character and attitude. I think IPL is for cricketers based on their character. They’ve got to be the type like, ‘Give me the centrestage and I’m going to do it. Give me the pressure situation, I’m going to do it. It’s not for the timid type of cricketer.
“So that’s where, probably someone like DK ― yeah, good player, but whenever you put him in a fast bowling contest, you always think the fast bowler is going to get him out. But whenever it is at the backend, when the ball is a bit softer, you say DK will win the game for you. So, it’s the same thing with these youngsters. This new batch of youngsters coming through, they’re fearless.
“They just want to get the new ball and whack it out of the ground, you know. ‘Give me the new ball, I’ll get the guy out’. And that comes from Virat Kohli, the brand, the way he plays. The new generation of young cricketers coming through. You look at Hardik Pandya. He’s fit, he’s slim, he’s aggressive, like these are the new glimpses coming through because of the Indian team, you know. And that’s what it does. They’re producing fearless, young cricketers,” Panesar concluded.