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Media Monitor: What is Akeal Hosein’s best potential pathway into the lucrative IPL?

Seventeen West Indies players will play in the 2022 Indian Premier League. Yet the Caribbean’s most dependable limited-overs bowler of recent years will not be among them. In spite of all he has done over the last year, Akeal Hosein went unsold at the IPL auction.

That opening paragraph is not mine. Boldfacedly, I stole it from Tim Wigmore, writing in the Wednesday 16 February Telegraph Cricket magazine. But the Britisher is writing not about Akeal Hosein but about Adil Rashid, ‘the third best T20 international bowler in the world’ and ‘surely in the best 80 non-Indian T20 players in the world’.

Photo: England leg-spinner Adil Rashid looks as pleased as Punch, after tying another batsman up in knots .

So I made the necessary tweaks to it and plunked it down here, hoping that nobody would notice the very obvious plagiarism.

Rashid, you certainly remember if you watched the five-match Betway Series which Kieron Pollard’s West Indies won 3-2 in the Caribbean last month, is a right-arm leg-spinner, with a serious googly. He finished the series with seven wickets for 115 runs at an excellent economy rate of 5.75.

And, disappointingly, none of the IPL franchises made a bid for Adil. Or Akeal.

Trinidadians, my brother used to say, walk about with their heads empty. Our Akeal finished the England Series with 17 wickets for 120 runs at a decent economy rate of 7.05. And in our ignorance, many of us Trinis felt that he had got a raw deal. But where Hosein is concerned, we need be ignorant no longer.

Photo: West Indies left-arm finger spinner Akeal Hosein considers his options during a West Indies training session.

In an Orin Gordon column right here on Wired868 this week, you would have read this:

Akeal Hosein, growing before our eyes as an all-round cricketer, was not picked up by any team. He shouldn’t despair. The long list of unsold players includes Tim Weise of Namibia, Adam Zampa of Australia, Cheteshwar Pujara of India and Imran Tahir of South Africa—some good ones.

Gordon does not misinform. But his list muddles the issue by tossing Pujara, an Indian, in with the other three, all foreigners. And further underlines his lack of understanding of what we are dealing with by grouping Wiese, an allrounder, with the two leg-spinners, Zampa and Tahir.

Here is Wigmore’s exclusions shortlist: Adam Zampa, Tabraiz Shamsi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who, together with Rashid, constitute four of the top seven bowlers in the T20 rankings.

And, he points out, ‘the two overseas leg spinners—Rashid Khan and Wanindu Hasaranga—to go for big money also offer significant batting prowess’.

Photo: Sri Lanka allrounder Wanindu Hasaranga (left) in action against the West Indies.

Which, according to Wigmore, is really where the shoe pinches.

Unlike in the English Premier League, which doesn’t give a buck whether there are English players in the starting XI, the IPL restricts its teams to four overseas players in their XI for each match.

So, argues Wigmore, the auction thus becomes about acquiring foreigners who ‘can add the most value to a side and complement the mandatory seven domestic players’.

In India nowadays, he says, there are scores of very good home-grown spinners, who are duelling with each other for places in all three formats. A case in point is yesterday’s first T20I in which the Man-of-the-Match was 21-year-old Ravi Bishnoi, included alongside Yuzvendra Chahal ahead of Kuldeep Yadav, who did not exactly fail to impress in last week’s ODIs.

Photo: India spinner Yuzvendra Chahal holds nothing back as he appeals for a dismissal.
(Copyright AP)

Akeal’s career figures—22 ODI and 15 T20 wickets in 14 and 16 innings respectively—and his final figures in the India ODIs which ended just before the auction—15-0-85-2don’t exactly set the cricketing world alight.

Nor is yesterday’s post-auction 4-0-34-0 likely to have any of the franchise owners wringing their hands and asking why, oh why, did I not spend a couple of crore on the almost 29-year-old from the two-island republic.

No, says Wigmore, ‘IPL sides prefer to recruit foreign finishers, pace bowlers and seam-bowling all-rounders’.

Yesterday, Odean Smith got blasted out of the attack by the Indian openers, who took 22 off his first over and essentially limited him to a half-share of the fifth bowler’s spot in the innings.

But, after his CPL exploits and his 14-0-65-3 gross figures in the last two ODIs last week and the dismissals of Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant in the same over, he already had a US$800,000 Punjab Kings contract in his back pocket.

Photo: West Indies allrounder Odean Smith takes the aerial route in T20I action against India.
(Copyright BCCI)

Finisher, pace bowler or seam-bowling allrounder, take your pick!

So what are the realistic prospects for Akeal? What must he do to win favour with the Kings or KKR or any of the franchises for that matter, new or old?

There are a dozen positive aphorisms that offer encouragement for the disappointed left-arm spinner. What miss yuh doh pass yuh, they say, and what is fuh you is fuh you. Ramsingh luck is not Rampaul own also seems relevant as does man to hang cyar drown.

But all of that is destined to remain dead letter unless Akeal can crash a few opposing sides’ party in the next CPL and occasionally reproduce his 29 January fireworks for West Indies as well.

But there being no time like the present, my view is that his best bet would be to grab a five-fer in Game Two tomorrow and damblay his best Carlos Brathwaite imitation in Game Three on Sunday.

Photo: West Indies lower-order batsman Akeal Hosein gets stuck in during his personal best innings of 44 not out during the second T20I against England at Kensington Oval on 23 January 2022.
(via CWI Media)

Or do the double in both games!

What better way to get those who really matter in the IPL to remember the name…

…and put their money where their mouth is?

 

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About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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