The IPL is one of cricket’s premier sporting competitions, with its ability to attract big names subsequently helping the tournament to attract big audiences. However, it can sometimes seem like the IPL is a rotating cast of the same players from the same nations.
There’s never any shortage of Australians and South Africans, which is no surprise given that they rank among the top ICC T20 sides. But what about the stars who represent associate nations?
Aspiring cricketers in associate nations, like Nigeria, look to the stars of the IPL to help them develop their game, but it is important that these players believe they can one day shine alongside the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Kieron Pollard.
Here is a look at the IPL’s relationship with associate players, starting with the one man from an associate nation to make a squad in 2020.
The current star – Sandeep Lamichhane
The man currently flying the flag for associate players in the IPL is Sandeep Lamichhane, and that flag is the unique triangular design of Nepal. Lamichhane is a 19-year-old leg-spinner for the Delhi Capitals, who retained him in the IPL 2020 auction.
The Nepalese star made nine appearances across his first two seasons with the Capitals, where he took 13 wickets at an average of 22.46.
If Lamichhane can maintain his strike rate of 16.15 across an entire tournament then he will quickly become one of the IPL’s leading bowlers. The spinner will be hoping to feature much more often for the Capitals next season, while driving Nepal forward on the international scene. It’s early days in Lamichhane’s career, but the bowler looks destined to become the greatest associate player in IPL history.
The past star – Ryan ten Doeschate
The man who currently deserves the status of best associate player in IPL history is Ryan ten Doeschate, the only cricketer from the Netherlands to make an appearance in the league.
Ten Doeschate appeared for Kolkata Knight Riders in five consecutive seasons, with the all-rounder playing his part in titles for KKR in 2012 and 2014.
The Dutchman was frequently a source of quickfire runs for KKR, while a high score of 70* in 2011 showed his ability to craft an innings. Ten Doeschate’s right-arm medium-fast also helped to make him a valuable asset for one of the IPL’s strongest sides.
Kenya’s Tanmay Mishra and the UAE’s Chirag Suri have both been drafted in past IPLs, but they couldn’t come close to ten Doeschate’s level of contribution.
It is important for associate players to know that there is a pathway for them to get into the IPL, but it is also important for fans of associate nations. With each season interest in betting on IPL has increased, but having more nations represented in the IPL could further boost its popularity.
For example, the inclusion of an American player may swell television audiences, while encouraging long-term fans of US cricket to explore IPL betting markets and back their star to perform well.
This could have been the case at the 2020 tournament auction, but the American bowler Ali Khan went undrafted. The two other associate players in the auction, UAE’s Zahoor Khan and Scotland’s George Munsey, also went unselected. This makes it difficult to predict when the next associate player will burst onto the IPL scene, although hot prospects will look to Lamichhane for inspiration.
There is a great deal of talent among the associate nations, so it is conceivable that one day a Nigerian star will follow the path of the trailblazers from Nepal and the Netherlands. All we can do is hope that IPL sides don’t always neglect associate members and favor the more established nations.
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