By Krissania Young
The 2019 edition of the then VIVO-sponsored Indian Premier League saw the league drafting five West Indian youngsters, adding to the already heavily Caribbean-influenced competition. Nicholas Pooran was bought by the Kings XI Punjab, the Delhi Capitals scooped up Keemo Paul and Sherfane Rutherford, while their Guyanese countryman, Shimron Hetmyer, was copped by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, as Oshane Thomas’ services were employed by the Rajasthan Royals.
It must not be understated that all five players have returned for the 2020 edition of the IPL, having either been retained or traded. This season has also seen yet another WINDIES rising star, in Fabian Allen, being given an opportunity with the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Then there is the Vincentian, Obed McCoy, who is yet to rise to fame, still holding all the attributes and makings of an effective T20 bowler. He, too, should be counted amongst these.
Nicholas Pooran, at the age of 25, is already being lauded as one of the “cleanest” hitters of the cricket ball, as well as being counted among the smartest cricketers in the game. Pooran, who, in the past, also had his struggles with consistency, has seemingly won that battle—proof of which may be found in his 49.05 average in One Day International cricket. The left-hander, who is currently viewed as the most established of the WINDIES youngsters, has been a mainstay in the Kings XI side this season, having already equalled his number of appearances from the previous campaign.
Now, it is no secret the struggles that Shimron Hetmyer had in his first season of IPL cricket, under the Virat Kohli-led RCB. In the first four games of his IPL career, the Guyanese only managed to score 15 runs, before he was dropped. Although the left-hander returned in the ultimate match of RCB’s miserable season to score 75 runs from 47 deliveries, it was no surprise he was not retained by the franchise in the 2020 draft. The Delhi Capitals, however, swooped in and Hetmyer has found both a home and a definitive role. The former U-19 winning captain is being used as a finisher by coach Ricky Ponting and so far boasts an average of 30.33 while striking at 149.18.
Fellow West Indian Keemo Paul, on the other hand, is calling Delhi home for the second season. Paul featured on eight occasions for the Shreyas Iyer-led side last season, picking up 9 wickets at 8.72. Although the all-rounder is yet to feature this, there is nothing to worry about. The Delhi Capitals have been a winning team this year, currently sitting 2nd on the eight-team table. But it is the arrival of Australian all-rounder, Marcus Stoinis, that is proving a challenge for Paul. However, knowing the asset that the ever-improving Keemo Paul is, there’s no need for the panic button just yet.
The Guyanese that moved on from the Delhi Capitals last season, is Sherfane Rutherford. A highly-rated prospective finisher, Rutherford was traded for by the Mumbai Indians in the 2020 IPL draft. Another left-hander, Rutherford made seven appearances for the Capitals last season. He, too, has not been able to force his way into the playing XI of the current table-toppers. Yet, Rutherford is another who has nothing to worry about – barring form. The mere fact that the reigning champions traded for the 22-year-old is an indication of potential yet to be fulfilled.
Staying on the topic of ‘not yet featured’, we come to Jamaican fast-bowler, Oshane Thomas. A late feature for the Rajasthan Royals in the last campaign, Thomas finished with a fairly decent five wickets in four innings at an economy rate of 7.90. Thomas, who is currently woefully, and bemusingly, out of form, has not yet made an appearance in this year’s competition. Questions have been raised about the youngster’s rise to fame and its sustainability. Yet, if we cast our minds back to the stellar CPL campaign he had in 2018, or even more recently, his last T20 series, consisting of 18 and 6 wickets, respectively, coupled with economy rates of 8.36 and 9.33, respectively, I’d say we can’t write him off just yet.
Then there are the likes of the ‘X factor’ Fabian Allen, who is currently experiencing his first season of IPL cricket and Obed McCoy—who might be a ‘late bloomer’—but whose skills (left-arm pace, guile and variation) suggest he, too, will eventually find his way.
All of these immensely talented young cricketers are having to pave their own way, overcome their own demons and tread their own paths, yet one thing is certain: the legacy of the West Indies in the IPL might not be coming to an end just yet.
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