Ryan ten Doeschate starred for Netherlands during the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images
Ryan ten Doeschate starred for Netherlands during the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images


By Nishad Pai Vaidya


When Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were reduced to 20 for four against Mumbai, Netherlands’ import Ryan Ten Doeschate stepped in and helped his team chalk out a challenging total. His performance in the eliminator not only highlighted his talent but also underlined the value players from the associate nations can bring to the Indian Premier League (IPL) and, in turn, help their much-neglected countries gain invaluable international experience,


The debate regarding the inclusion of the minnows in future World Cup has been raging. However, the issue of the development of players from the associate nations took a back seat as this debate threatened to widen the gulf between the full and associate members of the International Cricket Council (ICC). The IPL can serve as platform for the players from the associate nations to improve their skills by brushing shoulders with international players all over the world


We see quite a few associate players playing county cricket. A case in point is Ryan Ten Doeschate, who has been very crucial to Essex in the last few years. Ireland wicket-keeper Niall O’Brien joined Northamptonshire four years ago and has been an instant success. His younger brother Kevin recently joined Gloucestershire and has also signed up for the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) which is to be held in July-August. County cricket provides the talented players from the associate nations a chance to play meaningful cricket and hone their skills alongside other quality players. The IPL, too, can play a similar role.


There are fewer international stars in each team in county cricket compared to the IPL. Playing in the Indian league thus gives them a wider base of international exposure. It is not just the experience, but even recognition is on offer as the tournament is broadcasted to many parts of the world, attracting millions of viewers.


Although people say that some players may start choosing the IPL over their own country, this may not apply to the associate players. In fact there is a greater risk of losing these players to England as Ireland have found in the past. As some of them become eligible to play for England, they give up their nations of origin for their aim to play at a much higher level.


Some of the players of the associate nations are not full-time professionals. They have other jobs and play cricket only as a passion and whenever their country needs them. By participating in the IPL, they get a chance to earn good money and also play cricket at a time when they would probably be working in an office.


However, the only way the associate players can be spotted by the franchises is if they put in some fantastic performances at the international stage like the World Cup or the ICC World T20. Ten Doeschate is one player who has played around the world and has carved a niche for himself, which is why he was picked by KKR before his fantastic run in the recently-concluded World Cup. But others need to put in a stellar show to be recognized. Kevin O’Brien has done that with his fantastic innings against England and his brother Niall has displayed consistency. Who knows, they may be hot property at the auction next year!


In this year’s IPL, Ten Doeschate has been the only associate player on display. Next year, things may change as some other players may get a look in due to their performances in this year’s World Cup. Even if a few of them are given a chance to participate it would go a long way in helping their respective countries.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.”)