IPL: A global melting pot

Till last year, Caribbean opener Chris Gayle probably thought Bollywood was something you made furniture out of.

updated: May 16, 2008 16:29 IST
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Mumbai, Delhi:

Till last year, Caribbean opener Chris Gayle probably thought Bollywood was something you made furniture out of.

Today, as he tries out an entire dialogue of a Bollywood movie, the great cricketing rivalries seem to have dissolved to the ground.

Cricket that always fiercely believed in national identities is now giving way to a khichdi league of its own.

"The beauty of the IPL concept is that everybody is playing together. We've got Australia, West Indies, India, South Africa Pakistan and England. We've got different players playing in each side and to get to know those guys and to play against them for your country is quite different," says Rajasthan Royals Captain Shane Warne.

There won't be that aggressive approach anymore. And playing together, breaking down the different cultures is very exciting and just learning how others play is good, he adds.

Shane leads a flock of half-baked Indian cricketers - some of whose names even he might find hard to pronounce.

One such name is Swapnil Asnodkar who was unknown to the world till two weeks ago.

Then Warne decided to field him against Knight Riders ahead of Dimitri Mascarhenas. The move showed that the greatest international leg-spinner is trying to make a star out of an Indian rookie.

"We have got different players of different ages from different sides, and to play with them for your country and then against, it won't be that aggressive an approach. I think everyone will know each other. That's good about IPL, just playing together is a completely different experience," he says.

Similar is the case with Shaun Pollock who no more considers South Africa as his home.

It is Mumbai - the base from which he captains its IPL team hoping to deliver the promises the team made.

And thanks to DLF IPL, it is no longer difficult to imagine Rahul Dravid and Mark Boucher plotting a critical final over. Or even Mohammad Asif and Glen McGrath bowling as a winning pair for Delhi.

"It's a really good atmosphere in the dressing room, especially with the younger players. All the foreign players are mingling with the Indians. Some day we would like to see these younger Indian players make it to the national side and we are making sure we help them get there," says Mumbai Indians player Sanath Jayasuriya.

And he is not the only one who thinks so.

"You get to meet all the players from different courtiers, different teams, different regions as well. They throw their ideas around - hey I have never heard this before. You say something and somebody else is hearing it for the first time, it really is fantastic," says Bangalore Royal Challengers player Dale Steyn.

For the first time, cricket has brought together passport holders of so many countries not just into the same dressing room but in hotels, on flights, during meals and parties.

The commerce of IPL is forcing former archrivals to create new equations on the field.

"To be honest, we have had some ding dong battles with the Indians, and it is interesting to see how they prepare and conduct themselves off the field too. I am sure the Indians to want to see how the Australians and others go about their game and it's interesting," Kings XI Punjab player James Hopes says.

And being born in the new bonding, at least on the face of it, a new camaraderie and even adulation is being seen among these players.

"I don't think I could have been here without Brian Lara. What I am today and where I am, I am just thankful that I was so close to Brian, and with Sachin. I want to get as much out of him as I can before I go back," says Mumbai Indians player Dwayne Bravo.

In a country like India, where a Sachin Tendulkar is owned and possessed from Jaunpur to Jharkhand, for spectators to reach out to Shaun Pollock and say "Aamchi Shaun Ala Re" is a first.