The popular belief that T20 cricket is only for the young has gone out of the window in this IPL. Forget veterans, it’s some of the retired players who are calling the shots as their teams march ahead towards the semifinals.
Matthew Hayden has the purple cap on his head and it doesn’t look like anyone can snatch that from him in a hurry. Adam Gilchrist is very much in the zone, so is Anil Kumble, and then there’s Shane Warne.
The magician is the fulcrum of Team Jaipur as they keep on upsetting the favourites one after the other. What keeps these players going? “It’s just the love of the game,” Hayden says with a laugh. “We have been fighters all our lives and even when we gave up international cricket, we believed there was still some gas left in the tank.”
It was this enthusiasm to come back into the ring which spurred the Aussie opener on, despite achieving what he had to achieve in international cricket. “I still wanted to come back to the ring and punch back, and that too in a more punchier form of the game,” Hayden said probably taking a dig at all those detractors who had said his career was over. The champion opener, in fact, gets a touch emotional, talking about his performances in the IPL.
“You know what, this form of the game has given me my life back. And there’s so much in this form for the spectators as well. The father can come back from office to watch the game, the kids can do their school and still be at the ground, the mom can go home and cook even after the match…It’s complete family entertainment and I would love to be an entertainer in this format,” Hayden explained the reason for his desire.
For Kumble too, T20 cricket was a process of re-inventing himself. “When I played the IPL last season, I was still playing international cricket. But this time around, I knew it’s just a one-off and I really put my mind to it and tried to do well,” the Royal Challengers skipper said.
Gilchrist’s take on his success in this format is also pretty similar. “This is obviously the only cricket I play now, so that allows me to throw everything into it. I know that in a week’s time I have a year off. It’s not the case with too many people in this competition,” Gilchrist said.