By Siddharth Thakur
Veteran South African pacer Dale Steyn courted a fresh controversy with his unpopular opinion about the biggest domestic tournament in competitive cricket – the Indian Premier League (IPL). Currently plying his trade with the Quetta Gladiators in the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), the Proteas speed merchant opted to turn his back on one of the most celebrated T20 leagues hosted by the richest cricket board in the history of the gentlemen’s game – the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Steyn raised several eyebrows with his controversial remarks while comparing the IPL with PSL. While a host of pundits and followers of the gentlemen’s game will agree with the fact that IPL holds sway over the PSL, Steyn presented a different narrative by claiming that cricket often takes a back seat at the Indian Premier League. Steyn claimed that there’s so much emphasis on money that somewhere down the line, cricket gets forgotten in the IPL.
At a time when the entire cricket fraternity was trying to digest Steyn’s observations about IPL’s counterparts being slightly more rewarding than the BCCI-orchestrated tournament, the South African fast bowler issued a clarification and tendered a swift apology. Steyn defended his stance and asserted that his words never intended to be degrading, insulting, or ‘comparing’ of any leagues.
Comparing IPL with PSL, there is no brainer that the Indian Premier League which shattered records with an overall viewership of 405 million in 2020 has bragging rights over the elite Pakistani T20 tournament. While the 2019 World Cup final between New Zealand and England had a viewership of 15.4 million, the 2020 final between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals garnered a television audience of 31.57 million.
There is a reason why the BCCI doesn’t let Indian players feature in other global leagues. The IPL has always been domestic cricket’s biggest extravaganza since its inception. Even Indian all-rounder and youngster Shivam Dube had a bigger signing fee (4.4 crores) at the IPL 2021 auction than the prize money of the PSL 2020 final.
Last year’s champions Karachi Kings reportedly minted 5,00,000 USD (around Rs 3.72 crore) for clinching the PSL title in 2020. PSL 2020 winners Karachi Kings were handed Rs 3.72 cr while Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians pocketed Rs 20 crore for retaining their crown in IPL 2020. Even runners-up Delhi Capitals earned Rs 11 crore more than last year’s PSL finalist Lahore Qalandars.
The likes of Rashid Khan, Hasan Ali, David Miller, Chris Gayle, Chris Lynn and Tom Banton featured in the platinum list of the PSL draft 2021. While Gayle is already in the twilight phase of his career, Banton and Lynn only managed to warm the bench in the IPL 2020. In the IPL 2021 auction, all-rounder Chris Morris was roped in by Rajasthan Royals for a whopping Rs 16.25 crores.
However, Virat Kohli retained the top-earner tag with a staggering salary of Rs 17 crore. From Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, David Warner to Pat Cummins, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan, every year IPL attracts some of the biggest names in white-ball cricket as all 8 franchises often end up breaking the bank in order to acquire the services of world-class cricketers.
IPL has been turning exciting young talents into household names since 2008. Over the years, the Indian cash-rich league has served itself as a launchpad for youngsters. From Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya to Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw, several exciting young talents have had the honour to rub their shoulders with the best in the business. Players not only raise their stocks in the domestic circuit by playing the IPL, they also strengthen their bid to receive national call-ups through career-defining performances.