Over the years, one of the biggest problems facing T20 leagues around the world has been the tendency of certain players to choose franchise teams over their national sides. Over the years, the team that has suffered the brunt of such instances has been the West Indies. But in the upcoming ICC 2019 World Cup, the side that may feel the adverse impact of IPL the most could well be the Proteas.
Never having won the World Cup and constantly succumbing to the tag of chokers, the South Africans were hoping, as always, that the upcoming mega event in England would end their travails. But last year, their hopes suffered a big blow when their best limited-overs batsman, AB de Villiers, decided to retire from international cricket. He certainly wouldn't have done that if there were no big T20 leagues around providing lucrative contracts.
Trouble for fast bowlers
AB's decision came early enough for South Africa to re-configure their World Cup strategy. But now, couple of events in IPL threaten to make an even bigger dent to the hopes of the African side. First, Dale Steyn, who has missed a great deal of cricket in the last few years due to injury, had to return home after appearing in just two matches for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was described as having inflammation in the shoulder – an area which has caused him serious problems.
Two members of South Africa's World Cup squad, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi, both pacers, had to pull out of the league due to injuries even before it started.
Hopes are still there that all three would recover in time for the big event. However, an even bigger injury scare has appeared on the horizon with Kagiso Rabada being ruled out of remaining matches in the T20 competition due to back-related problems. If both Steyn, the greatest fast bowler of the current generation, and Rabada, the most talented pacer in the world, are out of the biggest ODI tournament in the world, their team would be heavily disadvantaged.
To be fair, the nature of niggles that both Rabada and Steyn have complained about doesn't seem all that dangerous, as of now. It is likely that they decided to play on the safe side and return home at the slightest indication of trouble. Not just South African fans but cricket lovers across the world would be hoping that the pair recovers and is part of the quadrennial cricket spectacle. The tournament would lose a lot of quality by their absence. But one thing that we do know for certain is that AB won't be there for his team. That is a painful fact that South Africans and their sympathizers will have to live with.